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Saturday, February 14, 2009 

Weekend links.

No overall theme again this week, except for one story we shall leave until last. On the blogs, as good a place to start as any is those discussing other blogs, with both A Very Public Sociologist and BenSix examining the piss-poor LabourList, which in the words of Jamie Sport, "is little more than a big sign saying this is why you shouldn't vote Labour". Dave Osler asks what makes a great political pamphlet, Lee Griffin talks truancy, Tom Freeman takes on the Times over their criticism of the Lloyds takeover of HBOS, the Heresiarch commemorates the 20th anniversary of the fatwa against Salman Rushdie, Lib Dem David Howarth is brilliant on prisons, BenSix (again) mocks the Mail over its hysteria about "persecuted" Christians and Alix Mortimer is horrified by the latest anti-terror proposal to make women suspicious of brown people by showing sinister films in hairdressers. Eric Allison also attacks the Tories' latest piece of opportunism, this time ringing the outrage bell about prisoners, shock horror, reading "unsuitable" literature.

As for the papers, there's not much of quality but for three articles: Jonathan Steele on Afghanistan, 20 years after the Soviets withdrew while looking at our own involvement, Peter Oborne, who is utterly wasted at the Mail, tackles Jacqui Smith's expenses, and Andrew Grice notes Labour is still terrified about the ghosts of old returning to haunt them.

Left till last for the worst tabloid pieces is predictably the nonsense being spouted about a 13-year-old fathering a child. Most amusing is the pique at the prospect of Alfie and Chantelle getting benefits in the Sun, which presumably has already paid a vast sum to their parents to obtain their story. Even more hilarious are these lines in the leader, which points the finger everywhere except at itself:

Then we must consider how our fashion industry sexualises children.

Stores are full of flirtatious clothes aimed at little girls.

Is it responsible for shops to target sexy bras and knickers at children of eight?

Ah yes, the "fashion industry" sexualising children. It's nothing to do with the media being overflowing with sex, is it, such as the newspaper which features a topless woman on its third page every day, certainly not. As per usual though, the Sun is a beacon of sanity compared to the Daily Mail, which yesterday had Melanie Phillips spitting tacks, and today has veteran worst comment piece winner Amanda Platell doing much the same, while its leader blames, naturally, the liberals. Platell's piece is instructive of how on a case by case basis it decides how to allot blame to either parents or the state, depending on their whim at the time:

I know there are those who will pour scorn on Alfie's head. Doubtless, he's not the sharpest pencil in the box. But the blame for this whole sorry episode lies elsewhere - and I don't mean with his 15-year-old 'girlfriend', Chantelle.

For their predicament is testament to the moral collapse that is the true legacy of a liberal establishment that has imposed its own values - or rather, lack of them - on the British people for the past four decades.

So while when Allison Pearson blamed the mother when her daughter was murdered, something she had no control over, Platell this time round blames the "liberal establishment" when the parents themselves had far more of the blame, should we wish to apportion it, to share. Platell at least puts this moral collapse down to four decades worth of "liberal" policies, unlike the Conservatives who predictably screamed about the broken society, even when the BBC rather shot them down by noting that the number of under-16s giving birth over the past decade has declined. Deborah Orr in the Independent is a voice of sanity, noting how incredibly rare such a situation is, and then skewering all involved:

The concern should not be only about the wisdom of the families involved, but about a media culture that is no better at preserving the innocence of childhood than the individuals it seeks to criticise.


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That collection of weekend links left me angry.

I think that is a good thing.

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