Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Yes he did.

'That one' did it.

And like most of us, I'm still in the emotional phase - and in a funny way, perhaps just for today, it is an 'us'. Because Obama's universality and the universality of our interest around the globe in his candidacy, has created - if only momentarily - a community of interest.

Who knows where this may take us. Who knows how long it will last.

But just for a moment it is irresistible to savour the spectacle, the experience, the emotionally buffeting rollercoaster, of history being made. Of history occurring, before our very eyes.

Change certainly can happen. Change has happened.


The cynic in me, the realist it likes to call itself, reminds me of 1997 and tells me that another larger generation may have to grow up disappointed. As the red wedgers of the British 80's grew up when the lies and war crimes of blood red Blair came to haunt their 21st century.

But I can't buy it because, for all that the day may come when President Obama chooses to bomb somewhere back to the nineteenth century, or when a Pashtun wedding party gets atomised by a high level bombing raid on his watch, it won't change the significance of today.

As Justin Webb said last week and indeed last night, when America looks in the mirror it will see a black 'first family'.

He may not be the son of slaves but he hasn't married a white chick either. Michelle Obama and those two daughters might just turn out to be the real signifiers of change as much as their husband and father.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

In Praise of Independents - or Why do Manuel and the Mail have it in for a certain maned male?

Firstly yes I have felt moved to comment on Russell Brand and second, no, I don't think its a big deal.

But I did love the bitchiness of the Independent's front page today 'Manuel's Revenge' - because that in essence is rather what this is all about.

Well that and what exactly we treasure as a nation and why.

Andrew Sachs incidentally hates being referred to as Manuel and loathes the fact that his apparently stellar career on stage and screen is often reduced to 12 episodes of slightly racist pastiche performed several decades ago.

He has said this. But this is his problem.

And he is a national treasure because of those 12 episodes. Not in fact because of all his lovely voice over work for Radio 4, or his serious stage work, or indeed all the other stuff that bought the house and educated the kids, etcetera.

Ah yes the kids - well the grand daughter to be exact. What exactly does she do again?

She's a dancer isn't she, by the name of Voluptua as it happens and she dances with the Satanic Sluts.

So I suppose I'm right to assume that she is a bit of a shrinking violet and probably spends her evenings working in a homeless shelter run by the church she attends every Sunday, with her granddad? ...Oh OK that was another Voluptua, well I'm sure she's lovely anyway, at any rate Russ seemed to think so - and lets face it he doesn't have to pay for it, does he?

Though I imagine the holy Voluptua did get paid for her recent revelations to The Sun, which included confirmation that she'd shagged Brand - or at any rate serviced his sexual needs in one way or another.

I suppose that after the Daily Mail had publicised the little-noted broadcast by Brand and Ross featuring their childish answerphone messages, Voluptua thought that there was little to be gained from maintaining that "they're just cads grandad and I in any case am still virgo intacta"
[as opposed to brando penetrata] .

Then I suppose its just a small step from there to telling the paper that features a half naked teenager most mornings, exactly who has been giving you one recently - and, naturally, what a cad they are.

Want more, see thelondonpapersblog or for a more 'eyecatching' approach see more of Voluptua at Hotties in the News:

Want Russell try

The Independent incidentally also had two other killer headlines today: A backpage splash of 'Harry Houdini' on Tottenham's great escape from the Emirates last night (and possibly relegation) courtesy of the remarkable Mr Redknapp - who I still think is a bit of bastard for going to Tottenham but can't help respecting as a motivator of men, a manager who knows good footballers when he sees them, and an all round cunning devil.

The other was a vaguely approving bit of editorial comment entitled 'Brand Values' suggesting that Brand, by virtue of a well-timed resignation, was coming out of this rather better than the somewhat over-exposed Jonathan Ross.

But for all that I think this is a Daily Mail witchhunt led by an embittered old Queen [or two] the best reason to read and savour the Indy today had nothing to do with Brand or Ross, Sachs or Voluptua [somehow I feel there's another joke to be made about 'sacks' and voluptua but I'm sure it'd be bollocks really...].

No forget the fripperies of entertainment wars as the Tories look for excuses to humble the BBC anew in preparation for an easy start to their campaign of public service cuts once in power....

Instead read a true Independent, Russell can and will look after himnself and Jonathan is as rich as Croesus, but there are more important things going on in the world which demand I'm afraid greater attention....

Read Johann Hari instead on how we are fuelling the latest bloody round of the Congolese Resource War: Johann Hari: How we fuel Africa's bloodiest war

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The world's not looking 2

France The French police are investigating the discovery of toxic mercury pellets in the car of a human rights lawyer who was taken ill in Strasbourg on Tuesday, a day before pretrial hearings in Moscow into the killing of one of her best-known clients, the journalist and Kremlin critic Anna Politkovskaya. (B)

Monday, October 13, 2008

The world's not looking*

Zimbabwe Last month Robert Mugabe said he could flout the power-sharing deal brokered with the MDC while the world was distracted by the credit crunch. Now he pushes ahead with his plans. (A)

Austria Far-right Austrian politician Joerg Haider dies in car crash (C)

A - definite consequence of credit crisis
B - probable consequence of credit crisis
C - interesting coincidence (and gift to the conspiracy junkies ;-)

*In honour of Jo Moore.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Same Old Tories? Or ‘This is not America’ - Tory Pickles says that British “cities should continue to be built around the car”

Remember how Blue is the new Green? You know all that Oak Tree Logo-led Tory Renewal?

Not very flexible in wind incidentally oaks and subject to being struck by lightning...still:

Tory transport spokespeople may be trying to seem greener than Labour with their talk of new trainlines to replace new runways [as opposed to Barmy Boris' idea of an island airport off Kent to kill our dolphins but make Kew Gardens quieter...] but Eric Pickles, a man who has spent his whole career in politics making Coronation Street look modernist and innovatory by comparison, is not buying any of this socialist claptrap:

The prospect of congestion charging in cities outside London "does not have a rosy future" under a Tory government, shadow communities secretary Eric Pickles said this week.

Speaking at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham, Pickles said he hoped Greater Manchester residents would vote No in December’s referendum on the city-region’s Transport Innovation Fund (Tif) bid – which would see £3 billion of investment in public transport and the introduction of a peak time congestion charge.He said: I’ve not the slightest doubt [the Tif bid] will be rejected by the people of Manchester and that would be a good thing.

Only hours after transport secretary Theresa Villiers attempted to bolster the Conservative Party’s green credentials by announcing its support for high speed rail over an expansion of Heathrow – as well as signaling that under a Tory Government the Tif would be used in more flexible ways to encourage bus and bicycle use within cities - Pickles said cities should continue to be built around the car.

He said: Public transport can be a very good thing but the way people want to live is with a car. I think we should a way to make our cities pleasant places to be but they should be places built on consent, without Government forcing an anti-car agenda onto people. I don’t think congestion charging has a very rosy future at all.

GO ERIC - Vote Tory for a sustainable future ...NOT

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Gordon is a Moron - And The Guardian has a 'punt'

Michael White starts his blog post analysing the media buzz around Brown's continuing capacity for self-immolation with the potentially hazardous statement 'Here's a punt...' [No, I'm not a betting man, you've seen his byline pic, you KNOW what I mean...]

ANY-WAY... call me prescient but not having posted since last October, its like nothing's changed at all...

Our new PM is still burning votes like they're going out of fashion and there's a whirlwind of media speculation over why he's such a dork, whether he realises what a dork he is and whether he can 'turn it around'. And the current majority view is that he cannot.

This isn't totally un-related to upcoming elections in which the Tories hope to score some high profile victories as a platform for a realistic assault on gaining a majority in the next General Election in 2010 / 11. Nor is it unrelated to the fact that the media needs change and crisis to write about and is showing a depressing willingness to see the Tories as 'new', not to say 'news'; when they are merely the old lot with a few wheelchairs and trees up front.

So, OK something has changed since last October, the wind...
- and Gordon Brown's face has got stuck in last Autumn's Mr Bean mode, caught between expressions like a drunk using a self-timer, vapid, flaccid and yet somehow curiously Blairite.

And lets get this straight now, the 'dork dialogue' of 'Gordon is a moron' propagated by the sneering public schoolboys over at Dave's house ISN'T THE ISSUE.

Its not even, just, the economy, stupid. Its the policies. And its the decisions, or lack of them. Above all it is the lack of change.

Gordon hasn't dithered, he's hardly made a decison since attaining power. A little window dressing but nothing of substance.

A 'Supercasino dropped' soundbite disguises approval for the far more damaging introduction of 20 odd regional casinos. A farcical Iraq withdrawal re-announcement disguises a continuing commitment to a doomed US-led middle east agenda whose most tragic consequences form an atrocity exhibition of misjudgement and misunderstanding from the refugee ghettoes of Damascus and Amman to the broken bridges of the Bekaa Valley and the whirling centrifuges of Iran.

And now everyone has noticed. That tends to happen if you keep appearing in public looking like that... Above all the media have noticed.
Thus, a feeding frenzy...

SO, what happens now?

Well, over at the Guardian Blog, where we started, Michael White tries to persuade us that its all about the moon. Well the timing of the Easter recess at any rate. In fact White ignores the potential for upcoming New Labour electoral slaughter virtually altogether. Something I find myself unable to do, since Gordon Brown's ineptitude might yet [and I still maintain hope that this won't happen] cost Ken the mayoralty in London and land us with Boris Johnson. A disturbingly bright and ideologically right wing politician who disguises his narrow free market instincts behind a smokescreen of bluster and mock-buffoonery.

I pray that London will not be taken in mayor-wise. Ken isn't perfect but he's been a good mayor thus far and has started laying foundations for London's future; despite the delays caused by Gordon's PFI nonsense vis the tube and by the mayoralty's odd mix of powers. He's even obtained some new ones in areas like housing which don't come into force until this month. Boris will simply focus on saving money by dismantling strategic institutions designed to protect London's voters from the unfettered profiteering of his mates in big business.

Don't be fooled by Boris' vagueness - you can't ask a plc nicely to act against its shareholder's profit-maximising interests. But you CAN use planning control to ensure that it has no choice - give it a choice and it can only reasonably put private profit before public good.

Over and above the London mayoralty White may be right to imply (if only through ommission) the limited potential for wider electoral damage to Labour on May 1st. After all, Labour were slaughtered last time around, but these ARE different constituencies and surely Labour doesn't want EVERY council occupying their every waking hour trying to make government look stupid.

That's the party politics - but what about the REAL politics?

Well, wake up and smell the coffee, children of Thatcher, your hearts are about to be broken again.

Through all the worst excesses and gravest disappointments of Blairism you all persuaded yourselves that one day Gordon [or was that Bevan] would rise from the ashes to reclaim the left's victory over the venal Tories for the, err, left. Or, if we must be less controversial - and, to be frank, more accurate - to reclaim society's victory for society, since the coalition of support for Labour in '97 gelled around belief in the need for social investment, rather than any narrow ideological position.

Blair mistook this absence of an old-fashioned sloganeering ideological belief in left-politics for an absence of belief in the ability of politicians to initiate change. He proceeded to spend ten years making this misunderstanding into a self-fulfilling prophecy, since he - like his right wing predecessors - saw society as a creature of market capitalism, rather than vice versa.

However the twenty and thirty and forty-somethings who had waited so long for change, through the long years of Tory rule, through the harsh Midwinter of King Tony, believed that under Gordon things would be different. There would be no more of Blair's rabbit caught in the headlights fear of losing the 'middle-England' voters whom he had never understood adequately enough to comprehend his own success in converting them to a belief in the need for public investment.

No more kow towing to the scaremongering of the Daily Mail. No more Chequers weekends for Ross Kemp. No more cosying up to Murdoch... well, you get my drift...

YES, the Red Wedge generation believed, things WOULD change come 'Gordon-time'...
Gordon believed in society. Gordon - unlike Blair - was interested in politics. Gordon believed in making change not just managing it. In intervention rather than explanation. Gordon would pull the levers of power rather than merely oiling the wheels of capitalism...

Oh f**k OFF!

Let's face it anyone who remained in the cabinet throughout the build up to the Iraq War and then stayed on through the debacle which that flawed and fraudulent decision was to become, has to be seen as of questionable morality and above all judgement. But Gordon went further, silently funding it. And that's before we even get onto tax rises for the poor to fund tax cuts for the better off.

If Gordon Brown wants a real legacy, and a positive one, he needs to find a new policy direction, one that he can make his own and yet which will appeal to his base. Thus far he's shown no inclination to do this, or even to understand how important this is.

He needs to start understanding this, FAST.

If only for the sake of Ken Livingstone and the people of London.

And 'Team Brown' needs to stop doing what they were up to this morning - which was sending out people like Hazel Blears to talk nonsense assertively. I closed my eyes in pain and exasperation and in that moment realised just how much like Big John Prescott Little Hazel Blears now sounds - try it, its scary...

Nothing ever changes - it all remains the same...

SO - its 'First Lord of the Treasury, Deliver us from Boris...'
Or you'll find that we might just, somehow, deliver ourselves of you...

...Whatever that uber-loyalist punt at the Guardian has to say about it.