Friday, February 24, 2006

First-time non-voter

I've been thinking about who I'm not going to vote for at the next general election for a while now. I think it was the debacle over Kennedy that may have finally pushed me into the arms of the UK's largest political wing, the None Of The Above I mean.

Up until 2001 I had always voted Labour. Post-Iraq I began shopping around and at the last election voted Lib Dem because they reminded me... well of the people I thought I was voting for back in 1997.

But the nastiness over Kennedy, the pomposity of Ming, mendacity of Hughes, the opacity of Who seem all too familiar to someone already let down by Labour. Charlie-boy may have been a genuine Whig but his replacements all look like the rest of our parliamentarians - reactive Tories of one hue or other.

So what's left then?

Respect: a mix of everything that was wrong about Old Labour along with a nasty streak of anti-Semitism/ fascism courtesy of their MAB bedfellows. Headed by a moustachioed firebrand, they would probably be better re-branded The National Socialists... well, they're national and they're socialists, aren't they?

The Greens: running a close second to the Conservative Party among graduates of agricultural colleges, they're really just a bunch of aristos who hark back to the days when the toffs ruled the countryside, there were none of these nasty corporate johnnies getting the best seats at the opera and their tenants knew their place. In short: Zac Goldsmith.

Speaking of which: Camonblair... well the name says it all really.

So why not go back to a post-Blair Labour Party? Because Brown will be the same but worse. Because Labour are already kept in power by a bulwark of Scots MPs who do to the English what the English used to do to the rest of the world: impose laws that have no force in their own land while soaking up English taxes to fund educational and health services denied to those south of the border.

The last thing we need is a Scottish PM whose only real interest will be to keep the milch cow chewing the cud while exercising the kind of brutish rule on the English (remember PPP on the Tube?) he would never dare impose at home.

Now the economic argument is over the only socialist bone left in the government's body is its least attractive one: authoritarianism.

While we can be grateful it failed in its first attempt to restrict our freedom of speech, don't forget it succeeded second time around. As the case of the Nat West Three illustrates, thanks to 2003 legislation Britons can now be extradited by a foreign power with no requirement of habeas corpus (a step the Americans would never dream of taking). Meanwhile octogenarian protestors at Labour Party conferences are arrested under anti-terror legislation and peaceniks at the Cenotaph under laws barring protests within hearing distance of Parliament (you really couldn't make that one up could you - no dramatist would have gotten away with it).

Deceit (and deceit and deceit) has become almost a requirement for office, while ministers assure us that we can trust them with new laws that will enable them to amend any legislation without the say of Parliament. This is before one mentions fresh terror legislation, identity cards and the like, some of which may actually be necessary, but can we really trust anything this bunch say?

As Mary Ann Sieghart points out in today's Times, with all the main parties moving to the centre, choice will become more a case of personality than policy. But who would want to vote for any of these monkeys?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Happy holidays

Moving article in today's Times by Danny Finkelsteim on David Irving's imprisonment.

One of Irving's contentions, one that helped to bring him a three-year prison sentence, was that "74,000 (Jews) died of natural causes in the work camps and the rest were hidden in reception camps after the war and later taken to Palestine, where they live today under new identities". Let's examine this for a moment, shall we?

Yesterday my mother told me of the day, as a young girl in Westerbork concentration camp, she said goodbye to her aunt and uncle and to her 14-year-old cousin, Fritz. These much-loved family members had been listed for the Tuesday transport train to Auschwitz. My mother still has the pitiful letter from her aunt promising that "we will meet again". But, of course, they never did. David Irving presumably thinks that Fritz and his parents survived and are living in Israel. In which case, the joke is over: they can come back now, don't you think?

Applying Irving's logic, his three year sentence presumably translates into three months poolside in Mauritius. Enjoy the sun Dave!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

They're doomed

An article-by-numbers in the Washington Post celebrating (surely mourning?, Ed) the Decline & Fall of Europe.

These must have been appearing every other year for the past 50 and seem to provide much the same purpose that articles on gormless yanks serve in "Eurabia" (The cartoon controversy has powerfully highlighted the difficulties Europe is having with its immigrants).

But while I may not have been to the States for a decade, I certainly see few signs that continental Europe (the author has the grace to exclude increasingly neo-con UK from his polemic) is on its way to becoming the impoverished shadow of its former self depicted. Indeed, from the cars on the street to the consumer durables in the homes, I can see little difference. And that's before we get on to the supposedly "unsustainable" leisure lifestyle.

Truth is figures will say whatever you want them to and here's some more - 300,000 of the richest Brits now live in France, 500,000 in Spain, and this one, at least part-time, in Belgium. If Europe's doing so bad, then why the hell is it so damn good? Trying adding that one up matey.

Monday, February 13, 2006

While You Were Sleeping...

It was a wierd weekend in the fantasy politics of New Labour.

First Charles Clarke informed us that we had a joint premiership - which has nothing to do with Blunkett's grass laws I assure you - which has nothing to do with foreign nannies I assure you (David) ANYWAY...

Then Gordon announced that he was going to announce a new range of anti-terror measures and we all thought that surely that should be Captain Tony's job, or perhaps that of the rotund jug-eared policeman who usually looks after locking up the enemies of our state.

I suppose that at least explained why it was the jug-eared Charlie who announced our new curiously seventeenth century mode of government, rather than the minister for constitutional affairs.

Then Gordon announced that he was tough on the causes of terror and that civil liberties really must go (on the Today programme) and set up a seemingly hilarious prospect in the process - which is that he might just become a lame duck Prime Minister before he even becomes Prime (as opposed to joint) Minister.

Since, in a most curious turn of affairs, the Captain's plane has been delayed in SouthAfrica and as a result that he will miss the key ID cards vote - well its just one of those things isn't it - after all as we all know the South Africans only have one plane capable of reaching blighty and now that's broke the captain's knackered.. err yeah...

So Gordon gets to lead the government to victory over the backbenches - and dumbass offences like glorifying terrorism are back on the agenda. What a curious coincidence that this oportunity should present itself after a weekend of the Chancellor (finally) flagging his support for Captain Tony's agenda of repression and trying so hard to emphasise that he too puts security first and liberty fifth - after whippets and flowerpot men.

Well only time will tell whether this is a master-stroke to pass the vote and simultaneously end Brown's chances of becoming PM by leaving him smeared with the execrable legislative agenda of his master's choice, or simply another round of New Labour's fantasy politics game.

The thing is that at some point the carousel must stop and a dazed electorate, as much as a confused party, will want an answer over where (on earth) Dorothy-style the wind has dropped us.

Personally, I think Brown's decision to apparently place himself publicly alongside Blair (where he always stood anyway) reveals his weakness - for New Labour it is a barricade strategy - all hands to the wheel as Cameron attempts to position himself as a New Blair with less blood on his hands and less shit in his hospitals. What is good for Labour however may not be good for Brown and thus, at the closing of his day, his light may finally be extinguished not by his opponents but by his own predilection for positioning himself as the ultimate party man.

Furthermore this is not a case of 'Well done Gordon your party valued your contribution' - because the irony is it doesn't and neither do I - so thanks Gordon for your lose-lose strategy: You lose the prime ministership and we lose our civil liberties. Sap.

Whichever way this vote goes Gordon, you come out of that lobby smelling of dirty nappies not bouncing babies.

Fearless Vampire Killers

Her Majesty's Press are of course to be applauded for running the footage of Our Boys beating up defenceless Iraqis, heroically disregarding the increased danger in which it will place our troops. I look forward to our media casting their own concerns about security aside and finally publishing the cartoons that set much of the Middle East aflame.

Joke. Of course their reticence had nothing to do with cowardice.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Playing by the rules


The spark for his attack on Mr Blair was a question from Labour MP Colin Burgon on whether British policy in South America was shaped by a "rightwing US Republican agenda". The prime minister replied that Venezuela needed to take care when it formed a close alliance with a non-democracy such as Cuba.

"If they want to be respected members of the international community, they should abide by the rules of the international community," he told MPs. "I say with the greatest respect to the president of Venezuela that when he forms an alliance with Cuba, I would prefer to see Cuba a proper functioning democracy."

Mr Chávez said the remarks showed Mr Blair was "nothing but a pawn of imperialism trying now to attack us from Europe". He added that Mr Blair lacked the moral standing to make them.

"You, Mr Blair, do not have the morality to call on anyone to respect the rules of the international community," he said. "You are precisely the one who has flouted international law the most [...] siding with Mr Danger to trample the people in Iraq.

"I'm going to be closely watching what you say and what you do. Because the British government has no moral standing - and even less yourself - to get involved in Venezuela's affairs."

El Presidente could also have added it's a bit rich to slag them off for building alliances with Cuba - which incidentally for any surviving socialists out there has more doctors per head than any other nation - while the UK continues to snuggle up to the likes of Saudi Arabia...

But hey, don't do as we do, right?

Columnist admits mistake

Sadly couldn't find the link, but in So I was all wrong about the drink laws in today's Standard, Will Self admits:

I was among those who thought the liberalisation a bad thing... I now realise that i fell victim to the oldest clouding of judgement there is: prejudice.

Who next I wonder...?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

It's good to stalk

Quite a frightening article explaining how to stalk the one you, um, love, courtesy of their mobile phone. Very Spooks...

Hat tip: Linkmachine

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Slam drunk

Huge fall in violence as pubs open all hours reports the Standard in a tucked-away inside page 2 column that becomes Violence down despite drink law on the web and loses the quote by a West Yorkshire police spokesman saying concerns about the drink reforms had been "vastly overestimated".

Could this reflect the Standard's own enthusiatic overestimations I wonder?

Tampering with licensing laws will not liberate drunks for sobriety. It will free them to prolong their drinking, multiply the problem and spread the loutish consequences further into the night. All-night drinking means all-night rowdyism, all-night violence, all-night spewing, all-night public defecation and all-night noise.

Now all we need is for Teresa May and the rest of the right-wing press to admit they were wrong.

Yeah, yeah...

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Labour's losing whip

Poor old Hilary Armstrong, labour's chief whip has had to suffer not only the embarrassment of losing a vote but the added indignity of being patronised by Dave Cameron. Apparently Dave and the new Tories stole a trick from the west wing and hid in a closet lulling labour into a false sense of security, given recent revelations from the lid dem camp it's surprising there was any empty closet space in Westminster but that's a another matter.

Anyway back to the lost vote on incitement to religious hatred, is it possible that Tony Blair was actually not to bothered about losing this vote, clearly losing a vote is a bit embarrassing, but the cost of winning the vote would have been much worse.

Nick griffn's trial in Leeds shows that prosecutions can be brought without a new law. The case against any new law was widely made, the proposed legislation was clearly badly thought out, illiberal and managed to alienate just about everyone.

Maybe just maybe even Tony Blair realised that this bill simply wasn't worth fighting for and decided to make labour backbenchers feel a bit more empowered.
I really can't see too many down sides for Blair in losing this vote, he can tell the religious types he personally supported the bill but what could he do when faced with the will of parliament? The parliamentary party feels it can reduce the dictatorial tendencies of the cabinet, in short it looks like a victory for parliamentary democracy.

It is probably cock up rather than conspiracy but the final outcome of a lost vote is actually a lot better for Blair than winning, he has not really lost any authority, a crap bill has not become a crap law,freedom of speech remains as it was, in short there is no real loser in this loss.

Hilary Armstrong could be a political master looking like a political knave or more likely she is another over promoted Tony crony.

Monday, February 06, 2006

The Taquito Moment

There is something peculiarly modern about this phenomenon, something aligned with our dark privilege of too much , this consumeriffic culture in which jeans and houses and breasts and ring tones are customizable. Consider it all: geographical dislocation, cities filled with singles, extended childhoods and postponed childbearing, speed-dating, the growing sense that the dating pool is as vast as the 454 men-seeking-women between the ages of 29 and 31 within five miles of your Zip code on Yahoo Personals.

In a world of infinite possibilities, the notion of falling in love, of finding The One, seems itself like the taquito girl, small-town and old-fashioned. Once upon a time, The One would've lived in your village or another one like it. Now, she could be this sweet girl across from you at the dinner table, but she could also be someone you haven't yet met. What if there's another woman somewhere in the world, like this girl, but better? Someone who will snowboard with you, and doesn't do that strange throat-clearing thing?

... Centuries from now, scientists may point to this as the moment in time when the pickiness gene became dominant. In the end, it will come down to one really old, lonely guy and his list.

"She must have blue eyes. She should like animals, but not in a weird way. No thin lips. No lawyers," he'll be writing, just before he keels over and the human race comes to an end.