tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-144224352015-06-30T19:59:06.439+01:00ObsoleteSelf-destructive dickish leftism from who knows where. || "It is now less and less necessary for the writer to invent the fictional content of his novel. The fiction is already there. The writer's task is to invent the reality." -- JG Ballard. || "In other words, the male is an incomplete female, a walking abortion.... To be male is to be deficient, emotionally limited; maleness is a deficiency disease and males are emotional cripples." -- Valerie Solanas.septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.comBlogger3790125tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-917698671297765252015-06-30T19:59:00.000+01:002015-06-30T19:59:06.456+01:00Membership of Conservative party 'may be sign of extremism'<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">Education secretary Nicky Morgan has defended the government ahead of tomorrow's introduction of a legal requirement on schools to prevent extremism.<br /><br />Morgan, <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-33325654">who still looks visibly surprised to be in a position of any authority</a> whatsoever, was combative.&nbsp; "What our critics have to understand is this puts us under the same level of scrutiny as everyone else.&nbsp; And let's be honest here, the Conservative party could until recently have fallen foul of our definition of what extremism is.&nbsp; The mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs? I should coco."<br /><br />"Individual liberty is all well and good, but if it leads to someone saying things we now declare to be extremism of the non-violent variety then obviously we have to step in," Morgan continued.&nbsp; "As for the rule of law, the law is whatever we declare it to be, and if we don't like the interpretation of one judge, well, we can always get that of another.&nbsp; Nor are we safe when it comes to democracy, as we have no problem whatsoever with palling up with some of the most unpleasant governments on the face of the planet, like our good friends the Saudis, who respond to demands for freedom of thought <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-33039815">with the axe and the whip</a>.&nbsp; Did you see there was another attack <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-33322431">today in Yemen claimed by Isil on the Houthis</a>?&nbsp; We're hoping no one notices that we are on the same side as IS there, not to forget allied with al-Qaida's affiliate the Nusra front in Syria."<br /><br />Asked whether it was the height of hypocrisy for Morgan to claim that homophobia might be a sign of extremism <a href="http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2014/12/04/nicky-morgan-i-stand-by-vote-against-same-sex-marriage-and-britain-is-a-christian-country/">when she and many other Conservatives opposed gay marriage</a>, Morgan gave a remarkably straight answer.&nbsp; "Well, obviously.&nbsp; But we either can't or won't do anything real that might help tackle extremism, so we decided making life even more miserable for some of the people least likely to vote for us was as good a way of any of showing we're doing something."</span><br /><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;"><br />In other news:<br />Fifteen-year-old threatened with TPIM for describing teacher as "well gay"<br />Parents of latest IS runaway blame teachers, police, government, social media, Basil Brush, Charlotte Church, and Buzz Aldrin for her disappearance<br />Counter-terrorism exercise held in London, officers trained to shoot for head of nearest Brazilian<br />Labour party abandons policy of social democracy, as "<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jun/30/labour-ends-call-50p-tax-rate-chris-leslie-warns-chancellor-further-cut">issue is gone"</a></span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-34305899140998335352015-06-29T22:52:00.001+01:002015-06-29T22:52:34.040+01:00Terrorism and victimhood.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;"><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jun/25/zack-davies-racist-guilty-attempted-murder-dentist">The family of Dr Sarandev Bhambra</a> had a point last week.&nbsp; If the murder of Lee Rigby was a terrorist attack, <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2013/05/sigh.html">despite it failing to terrorise anyone other than those who wanted to be</a>, then surely the attempted murder of Bhambra by Zackery Davies, which he claimed to be an attempt to avenge Rigby's death, was also.&nbsp; Davies was almost your stereotype white supremacist: a loner who had the obligatory copy of <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turner_Diaries">the Turner Diaries alongside all the usual Nazi paraphernalia</a>, that masturbatory genocidal fantasy which concludes with a suicide attack on the Pentagon, he also as now tends to be the custom admired the barbarism of Islamic State, despite the obvious contradictions.&nbsp; He may though also be mentally ill, and the judge has requested psychiatric reports before he sentences him.&nbsp; One of the killers of Lee Rigby, Michael Adebowale, <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/lee-rigby-killer-michael-adebowale-to-appeal-against-life-sentence-due-to-mental-health-problems-9607774.html">has also since been transferred to Broadmoor for treatment</a>, and is appealing against the length of his 45-year sentence on those grounds.<br /><br />Branding the murderous actions of individuals without any links to specific terrorist groups, and in some instances even those who do have such links is to give in to precisely the self-aggrandisement and narcissism that motivated them in the first place.&nbsp; Davies posing in front of swastikas and <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/lee-rigby-killer-michael-adebowale-to-appeal-against-life-sentence-due-to-mental-health-problems-9607774.html">the flag of the Afrikaner Resistance Movement</a> is of a piece with the suspected Charleston church murderer <a href="http://www.doynews.com/article/killer-manisfesto-dylan-roof-was-inspired-george-zimmerman-case-rants-against-black-race">Dylann Roof burning the Star and Stripes</a>, waving the Confederate flag and as with so many previous mass killers leaving behind a "manifesto" attempting to justify the unjustifiable.&nbsp; One line, and one line only is worth dignifying: "We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the internet," he wrote. "Well someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me."&nbsp; The exact same line of thinking is now espoused by the successors to the mantle of al-Qaida, the same one grasped by Adebowale and Michael Adebolajo.<br /><br />Murder/suicide rarely excites any more.&nbsp; How could it when the TV news in recent years has often seemed to be one long parade of atrocities?&nbsp; If you're going to go down in a blaze of ignominy, the thinking seems to be, you might as well make it look good for the 24 hour news networks.&nbsp; A case in point was the first of Friday's reported terrorist attacks, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/28/islamic-terror-france-beheading">the apparent attempt by Yassin Salhi</a> to cause a major incident at the Air Products chemical factory in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier.&nbsp; The French president Francois Hollande instantly branded it a terrorist incident only for the situation to become more confused once it emerged that despite beheading his boss and the use of a flag with the Islamic profession of faith on it, <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/france-beheading-attack-yassin-salhi-tells-investigators-he-murdered-and-beheaded-his-boss-because-of-problems-at-home-and-at-work-10350887.html">Salhi told the police his motivations were personal more than political</a>.&nbsp; He might have been or still be a fundamentalist, having previously been on the police's radar, but the use of jihadi iconography and methods seems the excuse rather than the reason.&nbsp; Nor have foreign connections been discovered as yet, pouring scorn on the media's grasping for a link between France, Tunisia and Kuwait.<br /><br />Last week at times this country seemed to have descended into a self-pitying wreck, feeling sorry for itself as all around it burned.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-33235157">The strike at Calais which gave hundreds of desperate migrants</a> a better chance than usual of stowing away for the journey across the channel once again electrified the media at large, with the same old why-oh-whying about why do they come here rather than stay on the continent rearing its head for the umpteenth time.&nbsp; I waited and waited in vain for someone to point out that the numbers in Calais wanting to come to Britain are tiny compared <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/15/europe/why-migrants-are-dying-to-reach-italy/">to the over 100,000 that have made it to Europe</a> so far this year, most of whom have either stayed in Italy or Greece or tried to get to Germany or Sweden, the two main destinations for Syrian refugees in particular.&nbsp; There was however no shortage of people convinced it was all down to how generous our benefit system is, the myth that refuses to die and never will so long as broadcasters and the press either push it themselves or don't bother to challenge it.<br /><br />And there right in the centre was David Cameron.&nbsp; While the big boys round the EU summit table tried and failed to agree on both sharing out said number of migrants more fairly and keeping Greece in the Euro, <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-33281019">there he was pushing his pathetic little renegotiation agenda</a>, to much sighing and eye-rolling from everyone else.&nbsp; Britain has often stood out on its own, sometimes by choice, sometimes not, but rarely has it looked so self-absorbed and obtuse as of late.<br /><br />This complete lack of apparent wider awareness has manifested itself just as it has in the past in the reaction to the massacre in Sousse.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jun/29/uk-full-spectrum-response-tunisia-attack-isis">Cameron promises a "full spectrum" response to the "existentialist" threat</a> posed by Islamic State.&nbsp; No one has the slightest idea what a full spectrum response entails, and Cameron apparently doesn't know what existentialist means or otherwise he wouldn't make such an utterly ridiculous statement, but that's the least of our worries.&nbsp; How much of a role Islamic State truly played in the attack doesn't really matter; that they claimed it whereas they didn't the incident in France is evidence enough they pulled the strings.&nbsp; Nor does it matter that there's very little you can do to prevent one fanatic from gunning down Western tourists on the beach when north Africa has been thrown into flux by the absence of effective government in Libya.&nbsp; If anything, that's it taken this long for jihadists to realise that far too much can go wrong with bombings when a trained lone attacker armed with an automatic weapon and grenades can kill just as many if not more people is proof in itself of just how non-existentialist the threat is.<br /><br />The point is our foreign policy, such as it is, seems deliberately designed to increase rather than decrease the threat.&nbsp; Cameron isn't wrong when he says there would be a threat regardless of whether or not we were personally involved in bombing Islamic State in Iraq.&nbsp; Theresa May was almost certainly right in saying Brits weren't deliberately targeted in Sousse; westerners as a whole were.&nbsp; Nor does Islamic State care one jot about the effect the massacre will have on tourism in Tunisia.&nbsp; All its cadres are interested in is the number of decadent westerners slaughtered for daring to feel safe in an Arab country.&nbsp; Indeed, little is more likely to excite the always priapic IS devotees than white women in bikinis lying dead in pools of blood, as potent a mixture of the paradoxical motivations of your average teenage jihadi as it's possible to imagine.<br /><br />I apologise for making this argument for what seems the thousandth time, as even I'm tired of it.&nbsp; IS nevertheless only exists in its current form because of Syria, and owes some of its success to our refusal to, <a href="http://flyingrodent.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/whatocracy.html">as the Times put it when demanding that we pal up</a> with Sisi in Egypt "work with the political order as it exists in the Arab world and not as [we] wish it to be".&nbsp; Regardless of how and why, the west as a whole came to the conclusion that Assad was doomed, that it was only a matter of time before he fell or fled.&nbsp; It hasn't happened.&nbsp; Rather than reassess the situation four years down the line, accept that regardless of his being a chemical weapon using killer of his own people that he's not going anywhere and that his army is the only reliable force on the ground other than the Kurdish militias, we'd still rather pretend to be achieving something by attacking IS from the air even as more westerners travel to join them and others launch attacks in their name.&nbsp; IS exploited the vacuum in Syria, as well as the support from both the west and the other Arab countries that flowed to the "opposition" to undermine Iraq and make its comeback there.<br /><br />Here in short is just how fucked western policy in the Middle East currently is.&nbsp; In Yemen we're supporting <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-33245757">Saudi Arabia's brutal and ineffective air war against the Houthis</a>, backed indirectly by the Iranians.&nbsp; In Iraq we're in effective league with Shia militias backed by Iran against IS, which is backed by the Sunnis who prefer the brutal regime of the caliphate to the discrimination they faced under the Shia-dominated Baghdad government.&nbsp; In Syria we are variously backing the remnants of the Free Syrian Army, assorted other "moderates" and the Kurdish militias against both the Assad regime and Islamic State.&nbsp; In reality this means we are in alliance with the Sunni states of Saudia Arabia and Qatar, who have gone back and forth <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/commentators/syrian-civil-war-jabhat-alnusras-massacre-of-druze-villagers-shows-the-group-is-just-as-nasty-as-isis-10318348.html">between funding and supporting outright jihadi and very slightly</a> more moderate Islamic opposition groups, against Assad, supported by Iran and helped by Hezbollah, also backed by Iran.&nbsp; Despite claims of both IS and Assad being pushed back and so on, in truth we're in pretty much the same position as this time last year.&nbsp; Libya meanwhile remains in turmoil and has turned into the conduit through which the refugees from these conflicts, along also with others from Eritrea and Somalia and your common garden economic migrants are making the trip across the Mediterranean.&nbsp; We don't need to reiterate what went on in Libya, do we?&nbsp; Good.<br /><br />Cameron is thus reduced to the platitude of a "full-spectrum response" and the ludicrous claim that a rag-tag army of nihilist throwbacks threaten our very existence because he either can't do anything or won't do anything.&nbsp; Further western intervention is precisely what IS wants and the Americans failed in any case to destroy al-Qaida in Iraq when boots were on the ground.&nbsp; We refuse to accept that IS is more of a threat to regional stability than Assad, and so won't ally with the only army in either Iraq or Syria that somewhat functions.&nbsp; We continue to ignore how Saudi Arabia funds the mosques and preachers that spread the Wahhabi precursor to Islamic State's takfiri jihadism.&nbsp; Cameron talks of the struggle of our generation when western policy up to now has either targeted individuals rather than the ideology itself and where it springs from, or has made things worse through either incompetence, as in Iraq, or by choice, as in Libya.&nbsp; We are apparently to be intolerant of intolerance, only without a countervailing narrative to rival that which appeals to a distinct minority, some of whom might as Roof put it "take it to the real world".&nbsp; The vast majority won't.&nbsp; That won't however stop ministers from reaching to the law, further restricting free speech in the name of protecting British values.&nbsp; Anything other than admit our mistakes and change course, and think of ourselves as anything other than victims.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-33567032043275098242015-06-27T10:22:00.000+01:002015-06-29T18:40:42.389+01:00AL-SUN PLOT TO BOMB UK TODAY<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;"><a href="http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/6518366/Islamic-State-monster-aimed-to-kill-British-soldiers.html?CMP=spklr-_-S9SunSocial-_-FBPAGE-_-TheSun-thesun-_-20150626-_-News-_-201361053">A plot by the Sun newspaper to bomb an Armed Forces Day</a> parade in Britain has been foiled by the Islamic State, the Raqqa Guardian can reveal.<br /><br />The plot, intended to target the unit of murdered soldier Lee Rigby, was disrupted after Islamic State informed the British police and security services of how the newspaper's journalists had made contact with them.<br /><br />"They told us they were willing to do the work for Allah," said Abu Oo Ee Oo Ah Ah Ting Tang Walla Walla Bing Bang al-Farqu, "which tipped us off immediately.&nbsp; None of our recruits talk like that, as they aren't complete imbeciles.&nbsp; We realised from the start they were either a journalist, or an especially stupid spy, and so played them at their own game.&nbsp; We first asked if they had access to firearms, then gave them a bunch of fake ingredients and instructions on how to make a pressure cooker bomb.&nbsp; We even told them to film a martyrdom video, just to make it seem authentic.&nbsp; They even believed the crap we told them about spraying the shrapnel with rat poison, for goodness sake."<br /><br /><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jun/27/police-foil-islamic-state-isis-attack-uk-armed-forces-day-parade">A Scotland Yard spokesman said</a>: "It is always helpful when journalists invent terrorist plots, as the Sun did in this case, as we clearly don't have enough to do already.&nbsp; It also makes the public more likely to jump at their own shadow and pick on brown people with backpacks, which is exactly the kind of behaviour we think should be encouraged."<br /><br />Abu Rupert al-Murdoch could not be reached for comment. <br /><br />Inside:<br />Page 3 - Today's martyrdom lovely<br />Page 94 - Actual Brits killed in real terrorist attack</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-17347401122274740652015-06-19T12:18:00.003+01:002015-06-19T19:56:51.607+01:00Europa hymn.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;"></span><br /><center><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/HBHyOLR5_rk" width="480"></iframe><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/cFZqqax4W9o" width="480"></iframe></center><br /><br /><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">I'm not here next week. Enjoy yourselves in the meantime.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-16572084866960697622015-06-18T18:55:00.003+01:002015-06-18T20:05:20.635+01:00A genuine question.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">Has any other group as <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/jun/17/florence-the-machine-replace-foo-fighters-friday-glastonbury-2015">objectively rancid as Florence and the Machine</a> managed to gain both commercial success and a pass from the critics?&nbsp; The two other bands that came instantly to mind, Mumford and Sons, and Coldplay, don't really count as both have received the odd critical mauling and are sniggered about, if not to the extent of the mocking they receive elsewhere.&nbsp; Plus, to be fair, Coldplay's first two albums aren't that bad.&nbsp; Closest in fact might be Adele, but then I seem to be in the minority in finding her oeuvre (Rolling in the Deep excepted) insufferable.&nbsp; Any suggestions?</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com6tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-40745576972364188602015-06-17T23:59:00.000+01:002015-06-18T00:51:27.767+01:00Syrian trilogy in Yorkshire pottery.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">All American trilogy, the future's dead fundamentally / It's so fucking funny, it's absurd<br /><br />Did you see the statement put out by the family of Tahla Asmal, the 17-year-old who now carries the distinction of being the youngest Britisher to become a suicide bomber?&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/14/west-yorkshire-teenager-talha-asmal-britain-youngest-suicide-bomber">“Talha was a loving, kind, caring and affable teenager,”</a> it begins, before going on to firmly place the blame for his decision elsewhere.&nbsp; "Talha’s tender years and naivety were, it seems however, exploited by persons unknown, who, hiding behind the anonymity of the worldwide web, targeted and befriended Talha and engaged in a process of deliberate and calculated grooming of him."<br /><br />Perhaps Talha was all of these things.&nbsp; Perhaps his tender years and naivety were indeed exploited.&nbsp; Plenty of 17-year-olds think about killing themselves, if not necessarily other people at the same time; I certainly did.&nbsp; Perhaps he was targeted and befriended, even groomed, although frankly this transferral of the terminology of sexual exploitation and abuse to that of comprehensively changing someone's outlook on life as a whole in a very short space of time doesn't really cut it.<br />&nbsp; The insistence that Asmal's decision to not only go and join Islamic State, but also take part in a "martyrdom operation", as they're called by jihadists, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jun/15/talha-asmal-britains-youngest-suicide-bomber-savile-town-iraq-isis">was all down to faceless individuals on the internet</a> does though take a knock when you learn his best friend, next-door neighbour and and <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/07/brother-of-hassan-munshi-uk-youngest-convicted-terrorist-feared-joined-isis">fellow emigree to IS was Hassan Munshi</a>, brother of Hammad Munshi, convicted back in 2008 at the age of 18 for possessing documents useful to terrorists.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2988926/Britains-youngest-teenage-terrorist-a-wake-up-call-for-parents.html">Munshi's defence at the time was</a>, uncannily, that he was groomed by the two older men involved in the plot.<br /><br />Again, perhaps he was.&nbsp; You might though have thought it would have alerted his parents, and especially his grandfather, Yakub Munshi, president of the Islamic Research Institute of Great Britain at the Markazi Mosque in Dewsbury to the potential for Hammad's younger brother to become subject to the same pressures.&nbsp; Perhaps they were and it made no difference.&nbsp; Surely though Asmal's family, devastated and heartbroken, must have been aware of all this.&nbsp; Could it really be that not one, but two Munshis, as well as Amsal were targeted by these calculated and cunning groomers, without anyone becoming aware as to what was going on?<br /><br />One thing is for sure: we seem to be stuck in the same old groove when it comes to radicalisation.&nbsp; <a href="http://septicisle1.blogspot.com/2015/02/yes-islamic-state-is-islamic-no-it-isnt.html">It's still about</a> <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05zrf7y">foreign policy, Islamophobia, alienation</a>, cries one section; it's about an austere and intolerant interpretation of Islam that either doesn't condemn the likes of IS enough or is outright sympathetic to their purity says another; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jun/17/roots-radicalisation-identity-bradford-jihadist-causes">no, it's actually to do with identity and belonging</a>, insists someone else.&nbsp; To which the obvious response is: doesn't all of the above play a role?<br /><br />To start with, you have to see what Islamic State for what it is, which is the answer to all things.&nbsp; It's a fundamentally teenage organisation in every sense; just look at the old jihadi grey beards <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/10/how-isis-crippled-al-qaida">Abu Qatada and Abu ­Muhammad al-Maqdisi bemoaning how</a> what they helped bring into being has grown into.&nbsp; Who knew that if you gave religious backing to one group allowing them to kill whoever they feel like that eventually another group would used it to kill whoever <i>they</i> feel like?&nbsp; Islamic State's response to al-Maqdisi's attempts to free the captured Jordanian pilot was the equivalent of a step-child telling their mother's new partner you're not my real dad, only with the added son of a whore insult just to rub it in.<br /><br />IS then not only appeals to those who no longer accept that establishing the caliphate now is illegitimate, as al-Qaida does, to those who see it as their religious duty to fight against the kuffar, whether they be Alawites, the Shia or anyone else they don't agree with, but also to to the most base desires.&nbsp; <a href="http://pando.com/2015/02/12/the-war-nerd-islamic-state-and-american-narcissism/">IS not only promises fighting</a>, <a href="http://www.rferl.org/content/matchmaking-marriage-islamic-state-style/26774719.html">but fucking as well</a>, to male and female alike, so long as the woman is perfectly happy with playing the role of the dutiful wife to someone with a potentially short life expectancy.&nbsp; While you'd think this would appeal more to the recruits from other Arab countries, never underestimate the pressures on young Muslim men as well as women in the west to follow the strictures set down by their parents.<br /><br />This doesn't of course begin to explain <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jun/17/bradford-sisters-had-undergone-airport-security-checks-before-police">the appeal of IS to the women from Bradford</a>, assumed to have made the journey to Syria.&nbsp; It's not many happily married women with young families who would decide to up sticks to a war zone leaving their husbands behind.&nbsp; Something on that level doesn't ring true.&nbsp; That said, why Syria rather than attempt to stay in Saudi Arabia, unless their very brand of Islam is compatible with that of IS?&nbsp; Their brother having gone to fight doesn't on its own lead to them fleeing to join him, not least taking their children with them to a place of such danger.<br /><br />The entire case of the Dawoods raises those questions of belonging, identity and integration.&nbsp; It also though makes clear that even among those who adhere to a highly conservative brand of Sunni Islam, the numbers who are so taken with the IS vision of life and the world that they'll join it are tiny.&nbsp; When you then have <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/06/our-true-shared-values.html">the government's utterly cack-handed overreaction</a>, <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/06/michael-gove-proves-his-worth-yet-again.html">first to the Trojan Horse plot</a>, which was nothing of the sort, and where there was no evidence that unpleasant, oppressive and wrong as it was, the conservative Islamic ethos adopted by those Birmingham schools was breeding extremists, combined with the continuing stupidity of the Prevent programme, which has never prevented anything, there is the potential to push those on the edge over into doing something they otherwise wouldn't have.&nbsp; Shiraz Maher is right on almost everything in his piece except for his bizarre invocation of how the colonies fought for Britain in WW1 and WW2 means instilling "British values" is the answer today.&nbsp; The Conservatives don't have the slightest idea what British values are, but they do know how to make more work for schools, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jun/10/schools-trial-anti-radicalisation-software-pupils-internet?CMP=share_btn_tw">or indeed nurseries</a>, lest there be any 5-year-old terrorists already being groomed for action.<br /><br />The rise of IS and eclipse of al-Qaida also highlights the way the nature of the threat from terrorism is changing, and just how little recognition there has been from all concerned to that effect.&nbsp; The big, major plots of the past have not entirely gone away, but have been superseded by the danger of the lone or working in pairs attacks we've seen.&nbsp; More difficult as these are to prevent, they are just as likely to result in failure, or rather than indiscriminately targeting the public, they focus on the police or specific groups.&nbsp; Spectacular attacks on multiple targets have fallen from favour.&nbsp; With the focus on the jihad in Syria and Iraq, it also means those who do choose to fight are as likely to be disillusioned by the experience and the reality of the situation as they are enthused by it.&nbsp; For all the fear about jihadis coming back from Syria to launch attacks, there has as yet not been a single returnee charged who has been found to have such designs.&nbsp;<br /><br />Here also is the stupidity of the double game being played in Syria: rather than approach those coming back with the intention of trying to persuade others not to make the journey, <a href="http://septicisle1.blogspot.com/2015/06/helping-jihadists-in-syria-while-still.html">the prosecutions continue regardless of the groups</a> being fought with.&nbsp; This is despite <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/commentators/syrian-civil-war-jabhat-alnusras-massacre-of-druze-villagers-shows-the-group-is-just-as-nasty-as-isis-10318348.html">Patrick Cockburn reporting how one of the major reasons</a> the non-IS rebels have made such advances since the turn of the year has been a influx of support for the al-Nusra Front, aka al-Qaida's official affiliate in Syria and a direct split from IS, and which Qatar is all but openly supporting.&nbsp; One day, the way policy on Syria has ebbed and flowed will be rued in the same as the war on Iraq now is.&nbsp; Till then, we'll hear more families make their children out to be victims without examining themselves, while the efforts to tackle what extremism there is will continue to fail.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-84013176287256452032015-06-16T23:05:00.000+01:002015-06-17T17:32:26.724+01:00This post summarised: I don't understand social media.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">If there's something that never fails to raise a chuckle, it's just how many right-on folk suddenly discover they don't mind in the slightest <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11990088">receiving a honour created by royalty and given out by royalty</a> making them a member of something that no longer exists.&nbsp; That most would also normally blanch at the merest idea of being connected with the empire, for good reason, it's remarkable just how soon they decide otherwise once offered the chance to put some more letters after their name.<br /><br />Yes, <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-33109755">the Queen's birthday honours list</a> was as delightful as ever, if not more so than usual.&nbsp; Most of the fun comes when Private Eye bothers to look at the list in detail and finds just how many of the recipients owe their awards to their political affiliations, donations or other brown-nosing, or alternatively, to how despite or indeed down to their being bent as a nine bob note they managed to make the grade.&nbsp; Some names do though jump straight out at you, <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-33107670">like Paul Kenny, leader of the GMB union</a>, essentially receiving a knighthood for being extraordinarily useless at representing his members.&nbsp; Simon Hughes is also rewarded for his services to the coalition by getting a K, a reminder of how brilliant the next round of nominations to the Lords will also be.<br /><br />Then there are the straight up juxtapositions of worthiness.&nbsp; Will Pooley, one of those who volunteered to help fight Ebola in east Africa and nearly died after contracting it himself, is justly recognised with an MBE; awarded an OBE is Caroline Criado-Perez, <a href="http://septicisle1.blogspot.com/2014/01/revisiting-twitter-hate-machine.html">for getting trolled on Twitter</a>.&nbsp; Alongside her is <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/profile/laura-bates">Laura Bates</a>, behind the phenomenally successful Everyday Sexism project, who receives the resurrected by Cameron British Empire Medal.&nbsp; Considering the major triumph of Everyday Sexism has been to make self-hating, insecure men even less likely to give the merest of compliments to the opposite sex for fear of it being seen as harassment while the actual sexists carry on as they always have, who could possibly object to the award?<br /><br />Getting the nod for an honour is in essence the establishment recognising the recipient as not representing a threat.&nbsp; At opposite ends of the pool are Benedict Bandersnatch, <a href="http://www.radiotimes.com/news/2014-09-16/benedict-cumberbatchs-claims-of-posh-baiting-are-a-load-of-rubbish-says-freddie-fox">who complained previously about posh-bashing</a>, getting the CBE, while Lenny Henry's <a href="https://www.bafta.org/press/bafta-television-lecture-lenny-henry-to-address-ethnic-diversity-in-the-workforce,317,SNS.html">push for proper representation in the media</a> was no obstacle to his knighthood.&nbsp; The awards for Criado-Perez and Bates meanwhile are just the latest evidence that the fourth-wave of feminism, if it can really be recognised as such, has been co-opted entirely by those it supposedly targets.&nbsp; When Waterstone's has a specific table set aside for the works by the aforementioned and others like Caitlin Moran, as my local has, while also at the same time encompassing Bryony Gordon's fucking everyone in a pair of trousers memoir <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/jun/22/the-wrong-knickers-decade-chaos-bryony-gordon-review">The Wrong Knickers</a>, appropriation has mostly certain taken place.<br /><br />This not being a threat doesn't mean the public at large are any more receptive or impressed by identity politics, mind.&nbsp; <a href="http://thoughcowardsflinch.com/2015/06/12/this-is-not-us-a-reply-to-sunny/">I'm with Paul</a> when he responds to <a href="http://labourlist.org/2015/06/we-failed-to-defeat-the-tories-because-the-left-has-stopped-understanding-the-public/">Sunny Hundal's piece for LabourList</a> that recognises the left-wing social media echo chamber most likely contributed to Labour's loss, in that he says speak for yourself pal.&nbsp; We don't all obsess over mugs with controls on immigration plastered on them, or imagine that activism online can replace activism offline.&nbsp; I've been critical of <a href="http://septicisle1.blogspot.com/2015/05/a-return-to-may-7th-and-everything.html">politicians beating themselves up over not talking like the public</a>, when in fact what the complaint is about and Sunny gets is it's not how they sound and the phrases they use, it's the content.&nbsp; He's wrong about Blair getting non-Labour voters in as much as Blair's great success was to come at the precise moment the Tories utterly self-destructed, but he is right about the cultural deficit.<br /><br />Not that hardly anyone outside said echo chambers pays much in the way of attention to Twitter subcultures, let alone your average voter.&nbsp; When issues of identity do reach the mainstream however, as they have recently with Caitlyn Jenner, Rachel Dolezal and Tim Hunt, it's far from clear it's to the benefit of those who are always the first to comment.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2015/jun/02/caitlyn-jenner-transgender-response-vanity-fair">Jenner's transition</a> invites cynicism because of who she is, regardless of the exact circumstances, as should the way it was presented to the world in a way those welcoming it would normally flinch from.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-33152596">Rachel Dolezal is an almost perfect example</a> <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/commentisfree/2015/jun/12/rachel-dolezal-black-identity-civil-rights-leader">of the double standards associated with racial</a> as opposed to sexual identity, while you don't have to take the Daily Mail line to think <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/jun/13/tim-hunt-forced-to-resign">Hunt harshly treated if still stupid</a>, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jun/11/tim-hunt-women-scientists">as plenty of commentators have</a>.&nbsp; Despise the way <a href="http://septicisle1.blogspot.com/2015/05/acedias-blackest-hole.html">a phony image of the "metropolitan elite" has been created</a> and instilled, as we should, it all feeds into it.&nbsp; This is hardly helped when so often the sites and media associated <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jun/11/british-national-bird-robin-murderous-bully">with the left do</a> <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jun/02/applaud-caitlyn-jenner-brave-or-pretty">their best to be a</a> <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jun/01/men-30s-arent-pressured-kids-answer-not-biological">parody of themselves</a>.&nbsp; Some have for too long celebrated difference for its own sake rather than thought about what makes us belong, unites us.&nbsp; Most pertinently, class has often been overlooked in favour of every other distinction.<br /><br />It's not just the left who have given in to the lures of the echo chamber, of course, and this doesn't mean those ideals are the wrong ones.&nbsp; For every person who banged on about immigration mugs, there are also those who don't think what ostensibly remains a centre-left party should have <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/jun/15/labour-leadership-contest-jeremy-corbyn">someone of the left so much as</a> <a href="http://labour-uncut.co.uk/2015/06/16/the-unwanted-dinner-guest-why-corbyn-is-bad-news-for-labour/">stand for leader</a>, <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/general-election-2015/politics-blog/11675756/The-lunatic-wing-of-the-Labour-Party-is-still-calling-the-shots.html">as that by itself shows the party</a> is still not "serious".&nbsp; They would seemingly have preferred the contest to be between three candidates with all but identical policies, none of whom seem to understand that Labour faces threats from both the left and right, with the potential for things to get worse before they get better.&nbsp; Equally misguided are those who see fit to comment on the alleged hypocrisy of supposed radicals for cuddling up to the establishment, and then see fit to advise a party of the establishment and its supporters on where it's going wrong.&nbsp; Oh.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-26262098130890898142015-06-15T20:50:00.002+01:002015-06-16T17:16:33.499+01:00Magna Carta and all that.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">I'd like to think we can all agree it takes a special kind of cretin <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-33126723">to use the 800th anniversary of Magna Cart</a>a, the document that established all are equal under the law, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jun/15/david-cameron-magna-carta-push-british-bill-of-rights-claim">to argue in fact only they can "restore the reputation of human rights"</a>.&nbsp; Considering the chief argument being made for a British Bill of Rights is it would prevent criminals, terrorists and other unworthy sorts <a href="http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/politics/human-rights-act-why-the-conservatives-are-wrong">from invoking Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights</a>, that of the right to a private and family life in order to avoid deportation, although how this would be accomplished without also leaving said convention at the same time as ripping up the Human Rights Act has never been answered, it does put in a whole new perspective David Cameron's decision to say it was "ironic" that "the good name of human rights has sometimes become distorted and devalued".&nbsp; Call me a stuffy pedant, but I'd say it was beyond ironic, in fact an example of a politician without the slightest sense of shame to use Magna Carta as a backdrop to say some will be more equal than others under the law if and when he gets his way.<br /><br />Then again, Magna Carta has always been a symbol rather than anything real in any case.&nbsp; <a href="http://jackofkent.com/2015/06/the-meaning-of-magna-carta/">Everything you think you know about it is almost certainly wrong</a>, and as Jack of Kent so admirably argues, there is no contradiction in politicians and other worthies celebrating a document that cannot be relied on in court <a href="https://twitter.com/JackofKent/status/610468809963634690">while wanting to repeal one on which you can</a>.&nbsp; Rights in the view of so many are things you can expect to be given to you as hard and fast as you can take them, and if you can't, well hard cheese.&nbsp; It's also noticeable historians chuckle and roll their eyes at all this nonsense, knowing full well that Magna Carta sure didn't stop King after King from doing whatever the hell they liked, while politicians, often in the main law or PPE graduates, go into raptures over it.&nbsp; Not all of them, obviously, but a fair number.<br /><br />Cameron's dedication to destroying an act that does work, frankly all too well for the government and establishment's liking, is of a piece with the fondness of the spooks for the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regulation_of_Investigatory_Powers_Act_2000">Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000</a>.&nbsp; Described by the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation last week as "undemocratic" and "intolerable", with the situation in which we are currently in deemed "unnecessary", <a href="http://septicisle1.blogspot.com/2015/06/when-maintaining-status-quo-feels-like.html">I wondered if the intelligence agencies</a> wouldn't finally see sense and embrace David Anderson's recommendations, couched as they were in language and arguments that mollified libertarians like me while still providing the agencies with the powers they say they need.<br /><br />Yesterday's <a href="https://archive.is/BkuMM">front page piece in the Sunday Times</a> rather answered such thinking.&nbsp; According to a number of anonymous sources, the cache of files taken by Edward Snowden has been successfully cracked by both the Chinese and Russians, leading to MI6 needing to extract a number of agents for fear they could have been killed as a result.&nbsp; The entire report, without needing to read the responses from those in the know, such as <a href="https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/06/14/sunday-times-report-snowden-files-journalism-worst-also-filled-falsehoods/">Glenn Greenwald</a>, <a href="http://notes.rjgallagher.co.uk/2015/06/sunday-times-snowden-china-russia-questions.html">Ryan Gallagher</a> and <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jun/14/snowden-files-read-by-russia-and-china-five-questions-for-uk-government">the Graun</a>, is bollocks of the hairiest, most obvious kind.&nbsp; Snowden apparently has blood on his hands, and yet there is no evidence of anyone being harmed.&nbsp; Que?<br /><br />You don't have to question how the Russians and Chinese could have gained access to the files when the only people in possession of them are journalists, Snowden himself having destroyed his copies after he handed them over, something not previously questioned by anyone.&nbsp; Nor does another howler, like the precise figure of 1.7m documents accessed by our enemies when the NSA previously admitted it simply didn't and couldn't know how many files Snowden had taken give the game away.&nbsp; It's how crude and transparent the sourcing is: when <a href="http://www.lrb.co.uk/v37/n10/seymour-m-hersh/the-killing-of-osama-bin-laden">Seymour Hersh questions the official version of events</a> in the killing of bin Laden, his reliance on unnamed intelligence sources is ridiculed.&nbsp; Hersh's recent exposes may be nonsense, but they are no less believable than a supposed newspaper of record (stop sniggering) noting down everything briefed to it by a government and then reprinting it verbatim.<br /><br />The "exclusive" given to the Sunday Times is revenge, plain and simple.&nbsp; David Anderson confirmed in his report that without Snowden, absolutely nothing would have changed.&nbsp; The Intelligence and Security Committee had never asked precisely how GCHQ monitored the internet, so it hadn't thought it necessary to keep them up to date with things like Tempora or their relationship with the NSA.&nbsp; Anderson's recommendation that judges review and authorise warrants rather than politicians raises the possibility they might be slightly more critical in their appraisal than ministers have previously, and that would never do.<br /><br />There's also the simple spite factor, that and letting everyone know how they might react in the future.&nbsp; The smashing up of the <a href="http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/08/21/data_storage_blindness_and_blundering/">Guardian's copy in this country of the Snowden files</a> was utterly pointless when it came to "ending the debate", but it carried with it the message of acting because they could.&nbsp; Smearing Snowden further and claiming those dastardly Rushkies and Chinese have got their hands on the locations of our brave spies is meant to reinforce how so much as talking about things we're not supposed to know is to damage our security.&nbsp; You might think you've won this round, it says, with the Anderson report, but just you wait.&nbsp; When all else fails, appeal to the court of public opinion, with its memories of Bletchley Park and hagiographies of Alan Turing.<br /><br />It's utterly pitiful behaviour, and yet it shows how worried the government and the securocrats are.&nbsp; They've done everything they can to deny there is any need for a debate or to worry about what those in the shadows are up to, when <a href="http://boingboing.net/2015/06/03/usa-freedom-act-the-good-the.html">even the American authorities have in the main accepted</a> the powers they had went too far in some areas.&nbsp; Instead of going down the same path, the Anderson report having given them the chance to back down without losing much in the way of face, the age old tactic of anonymous briefing to a trusted hack and newspaper is the response.&nbsp; When you can't make the perfectly reasonable argument that we can't foresee the future, can't know what the next threat might be, and so have to be ready for every eventuality without resorting to outright lies, there is clearly a problem with accountability.&nbsp; They saw back in 1215 that absolute power corrupts absolutely.&nbsp; 800 years on some still need to learn that lesson.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com1tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-28489998203948579632015-06-12T11:33:00.003+01:002015-06-12T11:33:38.585+01:00Black rose.<center><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/RnG85FDmVRM" width="480"></iframe><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/E6wllpw5udk" width="480"></iframe></center>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-54959427593791909202015-06-11T23:46:00.001+01:002015-06-11T23:46:17.755+01:00When maintaining the status quo feels like something to celebrate.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;"><a href="https://terrorismlegislationreviewer.independent.gov.uk/a-question-of-trust-report-of-the-investigatory-powers-review/">David Anderson QC's review</a> <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/11/uk-intelligence-agencies-should-keep-mass-surveillance-powers-report-gchq">of the various laws authorising and regulating</a> <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-33092894">the interception of data by the state</a> is as good as we possibly could have hoped for.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2015/03/the-securocrats-win-they-always-win.html">Compared to the work of parliament's</a> <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/11/the-real-face-of-21st-century-insecurity.html">Intelligence and Security Committee</a>, well, there's no comparison.&nbsp; Not a single redaction for a start, very little in the way of obfuscation or outright distraction, regardless of how transparent those attempts to muddy the debate have been, and outright recognition that if it had not been for the whistleblowing of Edward Snowden, we would still know almost nothing about the way GCHQ hoovers up our data with the very minimum of oversight.&nbsp; Anderson still, contradictorily, criticises Snowden, but that is to be expected.&nbsp; The independent reviewer of terrorism clearly does not swallow the bluster from the security services <a href="http://septicisle1.blogspot.com/2013/11/the-illusion-of-oversight.html">that major damage has been done to them</a>, despite accepting "national security" has been affected.&nbsp; When national security is defined so widely, and presumably in this instance includes damage to the reputation of said security services, it could hardly be otherwise.<br /><br />He does nonetheless accept the pleas of GCHQ for the bulk interception of data to be allowed to continue.&nbsp; He did at least manage to persuade the powers that be to disclose the general outline of the examples previously provided to the ISC for why bulk interception, which if nothing else gives us something of an idea as to what we're giving up in terms of privacy in order to prevent.<br /><br />This is not to say the examples given are beyond question (they're contained in Annex 9 of the report): most eye-catching is the claim that without bulk data, an airline worker with links to al-Qaida would not have been convicted.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jun/11/spies-gchq-anderson-snoopers-charter-bulk-surveilllance-public-trust">As Joshua Rozenberg writes</a>, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2011/feb/28/british-airways-bomb-guilty-karim">this almost certainly refers to the case of Rajib Karim</a>, who was in email contact with the then leader of al-Qaida in Yemen, Anwar al-Awlaki, since killed in a US drone strike.&nbsp; You would of course expect someone like al-Awlaki to be under surveillance, although how precisely GCHQ identified Karim we can't know.&nbsp; Nor can we know how exactly "bulk data" is being defined in this instance: yes, Karim might not have been identified if al-Awlaki also hadn't been targeted, presumably under the rules governing bulk interception rather than as a specific target, but that's rather different to how our "external communications", i.e. the use of any website not hosted in the UK are considered by the intelligence agencies to fall under bulk interception as a whole.&nbsp; Two of the case studies provided do not so much as relate to subsequent law enforcement action in this country at all.&nbsp; While this is evidence of the efficacy of bulk interception in cases where intelligence or what we would normally consider to be standard surveillance techniques have started off the investigation, it hardly convinces that the ordinary sifting through of the vast amounts of data being collected will ever on its own save lives, or outweigh the potential abuse of such access to personal data.</span><br /><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;"><br />That aside, the report on the whole is so well argued that if the intelligence agencies had any sense, they would take a good hard look at Anderson's recommendations and five principles, of minimising no-go areas, limited powers, rights compliance, clarity and transparency and a unified approach and adopt them as their own.&nbsp; Anderson writes of just how co-operative everyone was with him, as you would expect, and yet these are the same agencies that once free of the presence of those reviewing them go back to demanding redactions in reports, that over-the-top levels of secrecy be maintained and <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/11/time-for-mature-debate.html">the delivering of self-defeating lectures</a> that we're all so familiar with.&nbsp; There is in essence absolutely nothing in the report they should disagree with, at least if they realise things can no longer go on as they were, but whether organisations which by their very nature have to be paranoid and constantly on the lookout for new ways to break things can handle such concepts remains unclear.<br /><br />The problem you suspect will in fact <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jun/11/downing-street-faces-privacy-fight-call-strip-ministers-surveillance-powers">be more with the politicians than the agencies themselves</a>.&nbsp; Ministers will be loth to give away to judges the authorising of interception warrants, not least because it's another power they'll lose.&nbsp; So too will it affect their direct line into the agencies, and considering the past at times fractious relationship between the spies and politicians, that's not something necessarily to be welcomed.&nbsp; Anderson also reiterates the past criticisms of the proposed Data Communications Bill, aka the snoopers' charter, essentially saying the case for it has still to be made, despite "compulsory retention of records of user interaction with the internet" being "useful", as he terms it.&nbsp; Well yes, useful it would certainly be; as for being justifiable, in the same way as bulk interception is justifiable, not without safeguards far beyond what has been outlined so far.&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><br /><br /><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">All things considered though, especially when we think of how with a Tory majority, a Labour party that looks certain to head back to the right and when the only party remotely interested in civil liberties as a whole has been reduced to a rump, this report in different hands could have been the sum of all fears.&nbsp; Instead it looks set to merely maintain the status quo.&nbsp; These days, that feels like a victory.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-6489415391232449112015-06-10T23:59:00.000+01:002015-06-11T00:47:08.866+01:00The intoxication of power, via the Simpsons.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">You know what we haven't done for a while?&nbsp; Quoted from the Simpsons, so let's remedy that.&nbsp; In the New Kid on the Block episode, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zz8HZPZLZ1U">Bart foolishly asks Homer for advice on the opposite sex</a>.&nbsp; "A woman is a lot like a beer.&nbsp; They smell good, they look good, you'd step over your own mother just to get one.&nbsp; But you can't stop at one, you want to drink another woman!"<br /><br />Homer could just have easily been talking about the intoxicating effects of power.&nbsp; Only it wouldn't have been funny or made anything approaching sense, so would have came from a more recent season of the show.&nbsp; Yes, I just made a the Simpsons ain't what it used to be joke.&nbsp; <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/80029-the-slave-begins-by-demanding-justice-and-ends-by-wanting">Another philosopher</a>, arguably one not quite on the level of Homer but thereabouts, wrote the slave begins by demanding justice and ends by wanting to wear a crown.<br /><br />Very few once they have tasted power find it within themselves to either give it away or relinquish it, at least not without a fight (<a href="http://pando.com/2015/06/08/the-war-nerd-scuds-patriots-the-armies-of-this-age-are-weird/">The War Nerd in his latest post</a> wonders if the Soviet Union is the only empire to have collapsed without a shot being fired, although that's a questionable version of 1989-91).&nbsp; Politicians for decades have promised to devolve power to cities and local communities, only to decide not to once they themselves have power, or find those they want to empower in fact don't really like the idea of mayors or regional assemblies much.&nbsp; London and Scotland are the exceptions that prove the rule, and as we have seen, once given demands for further powers only increase.&nbsp;<br /><br />A case in point is <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jun/09/alistair-carmichael-legal-petition-election-orkney-shetland">the attempt to force a by-election in Orkney and Shetland</a>, under the specious reasoning that Alistair Carmichael lying about not leaking the comments supposedly made by Nicola Sturgeon to the French ambassador means the contest should be rerun.&nbsp; It's a campaign ran by SNP supporters, but obviously the SNP themselves have nothing to do with it.&nbsp; 56 seats out of 59 just isn't enough when they could they have 57 instead.&nbsp; Not that it's fair to pick just on the SNP, or the Tories with their legislation on trade unions designed to damage Labour, or the likely at some point boundary review.&nbsp; All parties are determined to make life as difficult as possible for their opponents, only realising too late that domination builds resentment and the seeds of eventual downfall.&nbsp;<br /><br />What is a new tactic is the use of legislation to bind a future government to the same path of righteousness as the current one.&nbsp; It's an innovation of especial vanity, an attempt to retain control when the people who put them there in the first place might well have slung them out.&nbsp; It's also, as with so much of our politics now, little more than a gesture when the law can so only easily be repealed by that new government, but it remains a gesture designed to trip up the opposing side in the most petty of fashions.<br /><br />No surprise then that a man as clearly petty as George Osborne is so keen on the mechanism, having pinched it from that other petty man, Gordon Brown.&nbsp; First he attempted to trap Labour by legislating for the next government to be required to cap spending on social security.&nbsp; Then during the election campaign the brilliant idea of making it illegal to raise income tax, VAT or national insurance before 2020 was come up with.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/jun/10/george-osborne-public-finances-victorian-values">Now Osborne has decided it's a wicked wheeze to go one step further</a> with his deficit reduction fetishism and require all future governments to follow his plan to run a budget surplus, or at least so long as the economy's growing, as he's not a complete bastard.<br /><br />Cynics might think it takes some chutzpah for the chancellor who failed to eliminate the deficit in a single parliamentary term as promised to propose to tie the hands of his successors.&nbsp; Considering we're still to be informed also of precisely how the sunlit uplands of the surplus is to be arrived at, demanding all do as Osborne says could be thought of as breathtakingly arrogant.&nbsp; Nothing though is off the table when it comes to continuing to pin the economically incontinent tail on the soiled old Labour donkey, which is of course the real point of Osborne's jape.&nbsp; With some of the Labour leadership candidates now accepting <a href="http://mainlymacro.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/recognising-success-of-macroeconomic.html">the utterly risible idea that they overspent when in government</a>, the obvious riposte to which is to ask exactly what they would have spent less on, and if they answer welfare you reply with a baseball bat with a nail through the top, all the better to demand they sign up to Osborne's completely sensible surplus plan.&nbsp; And if they won't, as the less self-hating ones won't, you carry on lambasting them for not accepting all this austerity is their fault.<br /><br />Everyone's a winner, except for oh, the people who will suffer as a result of the shrinking of the state necessary to reach such a perpetual surplus.&nbsp; <a href="https://flipchartfairytales.wordpress.com/2015/05/05/are-the-conservatives-ideologically-driven-state-shrinkers/">The otherwise excellent Flip Chart Rick argues</a> that despite the caricature from some on the left, Osborne and Cameron are not <a href="https://flipchartfairytales.wordpress.com/2015/05/01/the-tories-and-welfare-machiavellian-or-just-muddling-through/">ideological state-shrinkers</a>.&nbsp; When it comes to Cameron he could be right, mainly because there's never been the sense Cameron believes in anything.&nbsp; With Osborne, it's becoming ever more difficult to think otherwise.&nbsp; <a href="https://flipchartfairytales.wordpress.com/2015/06/05/how-big-a-problem-is-the-uks-public-debt/">As Rick has pointed out</a>, both the IMF <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jun/03/oecd-to-george-osborne-spread-the-pain-of-public-spending-cuts">and the OECD have changed their tune</a> of late, advising governments that are not Greece they can dial down the deficit reduction, especially if the proposed cuts have the potential to affect growth.&nbsp; Coupled with how everyone assumed that the £12bn in cuts to welfare were to be negotiated away in the coalition talks, Osborne if he wanted has had more than enough opportunities to step back from his surplus now and surplus forever mantra.&nbsp; Instead, he's gone one step beyond that into the realm of the completely gibberingly stupid.&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><br /><br /><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">That £12bn in cuts to welfare looks unachievable is besides the point: Osborne looks set to try and reach for the top regardless.&nbsp; The difference between playing political games and acting out of ideological purity is a fine one at the best of times.&nbsp; The chancellor has surely now shown his true, somehow even ghastlier face to the world.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-39595772661224764232015-06-09T22:59:00.002+01:002015-06-10T18:51:42.390+01:00Trying to out bonehead each other.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">Why in the name of all that is fucking holy <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/jun/09/andy-burnham-jeered-labour-leadership-hustings-benefits-cap">is the Labour party holding leadership hustings</a>, not only when parliament is sitting, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/jun/09/pm-accused-rig-eu-referendum-government-propaganda">but when a bill as important as the EU referendum act</a> is being debated and voted on?&nbsp; Why are so many hustings taking place at all when the vote does not take place for another 9 weeks?&nbsp; Why can the party seemingly not make up its mind as to whether it should have a short or a long contest, and instead apparently wants to have both?&nbsp; Is it down to how it's far too obvious and therefore far too silly a concept for the opposition party to um, act as an opposition when the government shows just how laughably split it is over Europe?<br /><br />All these questions and frankly dozens more pass through my head as the two main political parties in this country try to out bonehead each other.&nbsp; The most sensible time for <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/jun/09/labours-leadership-race-nominations-deadline-looms">Labour to conduct its leadership election would</a> be during the parliamentary recess.&nbsp; Let everyone go on holiday for two weeks and then spend the next month debating, husting, rutting and all the rest of it to their little hearts' content.&nbsp; The leader will be ready for when parliament returns, giving them time to work on their first conference speech, a conference vital for the party in all sorts of ways.&nbsp; It needs to be about what the new leader, whoever he or she turns out to be stands for, and what the Labour party under their leadership will represent.&nbsp; It needs to be about how the party rebuilds itself and how it can win back the support of those it has lost in every corner of the country.&nbsp; It needs to be about how the party can once again learn to listen rather than just waiting for its chance to speak.<br /><br />Why the hustings can't then wait till the recess don't ask me.&nbsp; Apparently it was necessary for the 5 contenders, who might shortly become 3 should neither Mary Creagh or Jeremy Corbyn manage to win the ludicrous 35 nominations needed from MPs <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/blog/live/2015/jun/09/boris-johnson-hosts-his-lbc-ask-boris-phone-in-politics-live">to be able to stand to journey to Dublin for the GMB conference on a Tuesday in June</a>, just to deliver mostly the same answers as they've given since the mauling the party received at the ballot box just over a month ago.&nbsp; The differences between Burnham, Cooper, Kendall and Creagh are almost entirely cosmetic when it comes down to it, it's just <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/jun/09/liz-kendall-labour-leadership-ballot">Kendall has been branded the "moderniser"</a>, and you don't want to be against modernity do you, while Burnham and Cooper are more the "continuity" candidates.<br /><br />At least today all 5 agreed <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/blog/live/2015/jun/09/boris-johnson-hosts-his-lbc-ask-boris-phone-in-politics-live#block-5576f18be4b06840f081a233">the manifesto wasn't too left-wing</a>.&nbsp; Only Burnham and Corbyn had anything positive to say about it, mind.&nbsp; Not that any of the 3 who can win have as yet given the slightest indication they <a href="http://septicisle1.blogspot.com/2015/05/a-return-to-may-7th-and-everything.html">understand just how massive the challenges facing the party are</a>, even if they have moved away from the more out there reasons they at first gave for why the party lost.&nbsp; If I have any sort of preference, it's for Kendall, and for entirely personal and spiteful reasons.&nbsp; Should Kendall win, I'll no longer have to feel as though I should practice what I preach, as the party will have abandoned me just as other luvvies have said when decamping.&nbsp; It'll also be quite something to see how those on the right of the party explain it when Labour loses just as miserably, if not more so in 5 years.<br /><br />Labour's various problems with reality are nonetheless as nothing when it comes to the Tories and their inexorable delusions over Europe.&nbsp; Here we are, barely a month after <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2015-32652606">Cameron's "sweetest victory"</a>, and he already <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/jun/08/david-cameron-u-turn-britains-eu-membership-referendum">can't so much as rely on the support of his own cabinet ministers</a> when it comes to his ability to negotiate a "better" deal for us in the EU.&nbsp; There he was, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/jun/08/david-cameron-tory-ministers-face-sack-eu-exit">imagining he could bounce those who owe him for still having their jobs</a> into supporting a yes to stay in vote come what may, only for a mutiny to break out within minutes.&nbsp; No, no, no said Dave, you idiots in the press got the wrong end of the stick; I only meant ministers would be expected to support me during the negotiation process.&nbsp; Which is why a minister was put up on the Today programme to defend the principle of his colleagues needing to supporting the government line come the referendum, obviously.<br /><br />Arguing for the exit is then to be the equivalent of an issue of conscience, a dispensation only usually extended to ministers when it comes to votes where the influence of religious faith rears its head.&nbsp; To your <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/shortcuts/2015/jun/08/meet-new-bastards-tories-50-strong-awkward-squad-conservatives-for-britain">"Conservatives for Britain"</a> and those within the cabinet who will ally with the no lobby when the time comes, to get out of the EU is a question of morals, to which to transgress against is to deny theological teaching.&nbsp; Brussels may as well be the antichrist, the whore of Babylon, Jezebel herself.&nbsp; To the more deranged, <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-33067157">like Bill Cash</a>, nothing less than a rewriting of history is necessary, nor will do.&nbsp; We fought and died in two world wars for our parliament, our democracy, not their parliament, not their democracy.&nbsp; We saved Europe from itself.&nbsp; Churchill was one of the first to come up with this <a href="http://www.churchill-society-london.org.uk/astonish.html">mad little idea called a United States of Europe</a>, but he never imagined Britain as being a part of it, <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/eu/10792773/Britain-would-be-better-off-without-the-EUs-ever-closer-union.html">let alone drawn into "ever closer union"</a>.<br /><br />Just as with Tory objections to the European Convention on Human Rights/the Human Rights Act, so much of the argument is not with the institutions themselves as the way the statutes are interpreted.&nbsp; We are clearly not going to be any part of an ever closer union when we are outside of the Eurozone and have no intention of joining it, and yet we must have "explicit recognition" of our opposition and "explicit protection" of our interests.&nbsp; The rest of Europe meanwhile sighs and snorts at the haughtiness and self-importance on display, but will most likely agree to something that will allow Cameron to claim his renegotiation has been successful.&nbsp; He clearly won't get any change on free movement, but probably will get something on the payment of in-work benefits to migrants, and something he can say does mean we're exempt from the "ever closer union".&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/jun/02/britain-eu-veto-opt-out-david-cameron">Germany could of course drive a hard bargain</a> if it wanted, asking for something in return like the removal of the veto.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2011/12/in-europe-without-influence.html">The veto is worthless in any case</a>, as Cameron's previous wielding of it showed, but then so many of the complaints about the EU are imaginary that it doesn't really matter.<br /><br />Essentially, what the out right this instant people care about the most, beyond the tiny few who really are convinced we've sold away our sovereignty, are things like the <a href="https://www.gov.uk/maximum-weekly-working-hours/overview">working time directive</a>, which helps ensure student doctors who would otherwise work 72 hour shifts don't kill more patients than they save.&nbsp; I exaggerate, but only slightly.&nbsp; They seem to imagine we'd have all the benefits of the single market with none of the drawbacks, only we'd need to negotiate a better deal than either <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norway%E2%80%93European_Union_relations">Norway</a> or <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Switzerland%E2%80%93European_Union_relations">Switzerland</a>, as both are subject to the same free movement of people rules as members; indeed, both are also signed up to the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schengen_Area">Schengen agreement</a> we opted out of.&nbsp; That we'd be Norway without the oil and Switzerland without the banking secrecy and skiing seems of little concern, unless the point is to turn London fully into an offshore city state where the rich and famous can hide their loot and come and go as they please.<br /><br />Cameron it has to be remembered <a href="http://septicisle1.blogspot.com/2013/05/cameron-hostage-to-fortune.html">gave in to these monomaniacs in the hope</a> of fending off UKIP and buying himself some time.&nbsp; As it was he was saved by the collapse of the Lib Dems, not UKIP defectors returning home.&nbsp; All it's done is encouraged the headbangers, as it was always going to; already we've seen in the debate today the excuses being made should the vote not go their way, with the complaints about <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/eureferendum/11663482/EU-referendum-is-rigged-against-exit-former-Tory-cabinet-ministers-warn.html">the usual period of purdah prior to elections</a> not applying.&nbsp; This is despite EU residents being denied a vote, as apparently what they think of all this is irrelevant.&nbsp; Now sacrificed has been unity within the cabinet itself, a sign as sure as any of a government destined to be torn apart by the obsessions of the few rather than the many.<br /><br />According to Philip Hammond in the Commons, "an entire generation" has been denied the chance to express their view on our relationship with Europe.&nbsp; Merely voting for parties that are pro-EU doesn't count.&nbsp; Should said entire generation come the plebiscite decide by a 55 to 45% margin we're better off in, there's no reason to think we won't be voting again come 2022, 2027, just as the Scottish referendum has made a repeat more rather than less likely.&nbsp; Another referendum on electoral reform though, to deal with how the votes of nearly 7.5 million people, <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election/2015/results">the combined total of UKIP, Green and Lib Dem support</a>, added up to 10 MPs, while the 1.5 million votes for the SNP added up to 56?&nbsp; That truly could be a generation away.<br /></span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-60048298511484926912015-06-08T22:48:00.001+01:002015-06-09T15:17:25.177+01:00Iraq and othering.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;"><a href="http://www.alastaircampbell.org/blog/2015/06/02/charles-kennedy-a-lovely-man-a-talented-politician-a-great-friend-with-a-shared-enemy/">In his otherwise fine tribute to Charles Kennedy</a> (only Steve Bell's <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/picture/2015/jun/02/steve-bell-on-charles-kennedy-cartoon">beautifully elegiac and moving watercolour</a> was finer), Alastair Campbell couldn't help but get a dig in at those whom, when it comes to him and Our Tone, can't see beyond Iraq: </span><br /><blockquote class="tr_bq"><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;"><i><b>Charles knew that it was possible to disagree with people without constantly feeling the need to condemn them as lacking in integrity or values; though he was not averse to making a few cracks about historic events down the road in Glencoe.</b></i></span></blockquote><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;"><br />And it's true, it's perfectly possible to disagree with someone's politics without disliking them as a person; there are plenty of marriages and partnerships that are testament to that.&nbsp; Equally though, it's fair to say most of us are happiest and most comfortable among those who think the same way, or we at least believe do so.&nbsp; Where the line becomes more blurred is when we get into the territory of othering; when we ascribe motives to our opponents that we might believe they have when they do not.&nbsp; It's far more difficult to remain on friendly terms with someone who thinks the worst and isn't backward in coming forward with such accusations.&nbsp; Both left and right do this, regardless of how the right often complains the left is more susceptible to othering; while not the best example, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/may/12/polls-shy-tories-left-conservatives">Lionel Shriver wrote in the Graun</a> after the election that the reason there are "shy Tories" is because of how successful the left apparently is at portraying those on the centre-right as being heartless monsters.<br /><br />You do though have to wonder if Campbell is yet again protesting too much.&nbsp; Very few now will claim, can claim, that Blair's motives in going to war in Iraq were cynical.&nbsp; He fervently believed, and indeed still does believe that getting rid of Saddam was the right thing to do.&nbsp; The way the case for war was presented was cynical, no doubt about it, although this again is not to say that Blair did not truly believe that Iraq had a WMD programme, was in breach of UN resolutions and so war could be justified on those grounds.&nbsp; How he came to believe that is again open to question, but that he genuinely believed it was the case is not in doubt.&nbsp; Blair's crisis of confidence in mid-2004, <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/7337883/Tony-Blair-considered-resigning-in-wake-of-Iraq-war.html">when he came extremely close to resigning</a> such was the pressure over the failure to find the missing WMD coupled with the death of Dr David Kelly is testament to that.<br /><br />Belief is key to understanding Blair.&nbsp; The former prime minister's every move is a mess of contradictions, just as his ideology, or rather lack of it always was: Blair believes, therefore he is.&nbsp; He has no objection to supporting dictators or autocrats (<a href="http://www.newrepublic.com/article/120691/tony-blair-does-pr-repressive-azerbaijan-kazakhstan-autocracies">and taking their money</a>) every bit as oppressive as Saddam was, at least in his later years when under sanctions, so long as they are supportive of the West.&nbsp; He is deeply opposed to Islamism, and would rather states <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/04/a-dangerous-melanie-phillips.html">like Egypt remain under the yoke of one man</a> than become exceptionally messy democracies which elect the likes of the Muslim Brotherhood.&nbsp; Yet he's never voiced any concerns about the AKP in Turkey, perhaps because, err, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2015/jun/08/turkey-election-2015-ruling-party-loses-majority-as-pro-kurdish-hdp-gains-rolling-report">until the weekend it looked as though Erdogan</a> was becoming the very kind of ruler he's fond of.&nbsp; Blair isn't oblivious to his idiosyncrasies, or to just how much of a disaster his support for the Iraq war has been; he can and has seen it.&nbsp; It just hasn't altered his belief that he was, is right regardless.<br /><br />With Campbell there is no such belief.&nbsp; You can't be an alcoholic, a depressive, as Campbell is, and believe so wholly in yourself, in everything you do, and project it so consistently.&nbsp; Campbell famously said "we don't do God", whereas with Blair it's difficult to know which God he believes in the most, himself or Jehovah.&nbsp; Unlike Blair, Campbell has also never given so much as the slightest inkling that he believed the war in Iraq was the right thing to do.&nbsp; Where belief is key to understanding Blair, key to understanding Campbell is loyalty.&nbsp; On the day Robert Maxwell fell off his boat, taking the Mirror pension fund with him, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2001/nov/05/labour.uk">Campbell was the one punching Michael White</a> for making a Cap'n Bob-bob-bob joke.&nbsp; Likewise, Campbell was so loyal to Blair that he became a liability.&nbsp; Who knows <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2015/01/and-were-back-in-room.html">what the Chilcot inquiry will eventually conclude</a> about dodgy dossiers and all the rest of it, but Campbell served his master regardless of whether he thought he was right or not.&nbsp; Whether Campbell secretly advised Blair that the war thing was all a bit loopy-loo we don't know.&nbsp; Perhaps he did.&nbsp; Perhaps he didn't.&nbsp; Regardless, he did what he was employed to.<br /><br />The vast majority of us do the same, albeit usually on far less serious matters.&nbsp; We might think our bosses are idiots, but it's rare we say that to their faces, at least if we want to remain employed.&nbsp; We might advise them their strategy or way of thinking is wrong, but we carry on regardless if they disagree.&nbsp; Neither Blair or Campbell could have foreseen what a disaster Iraq would turn out to be; they were certainly warned civil war was a possibility, as they were that it would foment terrorism and potentially bring it to these shores.&nbsp; No one came close to predicting it would lead to the rise of a terrorist group that would look to usurp al-Qaida, that would straddle both Iraq and Syria and be so adept at propagandising that British schoolgirls would be attracted to its cause.&nbsp; They could though have foreseen the instability that would erupt from the abandonment of any plan for the aftermath, that a country which had already been bombed by the US and the UK for 12 years prior to the invasion wouldn't with open arms welcome their liberators, that there is no telling what forces you will stir up by removing completely the existing governing structure and starting again, a pattern we've seen repeated in Libya.<br /><br /><a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/channel-4s-jon-snow-attacked-for-calling-iraq-foreign-minister-tariq-aziz-a-nice-guy-10301432.html">When Jon Snow then says the Tariq Aziz he knew was a "nice guy"</a>, he's no doubt telling the truth.&nbsp; Plenty of dictatorships have a softer face, that suggests reform could be possible, and like Aziz did, provide some representation for a minority group.&nbsp; Aziz might not have been responsible principally for any of the oppression that either the Kurds or the Shia in Iraq suffered either; Jalal Talabani, the Kurdish Iraqi president, refused to sign the warrant for his execution.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/05/tariq-aziz">As the obituaries have made clear however</a>, he was involved in the decisions to go to war with Iran and then invade Kuwait.&nbsp; He most certainly had blood on his hands.&nbsp; So too, without question, does Tony Blair.&nbsp; Does the fact Blair was elected whereas Aziz never was make a difference?&nbsp; Do Aziz's initial politics, his support for Arab nationalism, help us understand how he came to be where he was and how he justified it to himself?&nbsp; Does the fact he was the softer face of one of the most destructive dictatorships in the region in fact make him a worse person?<br /><br />Just as it is possible to disagree with someone without questioning or condemning their integrity or values, it is possible to think worse of someone precisely because their integrity or values are or seem to be pure.&nbsp; Blair continues to be a malign influence on the world stage because his black and white view of the world is so dangerous, because he has learned nothing from the war he still believes was the right thing to do.&nbsp; Campbell is a fascinating figure and invites such hostility precisely because of his success and his contrasting ability to claim white is in fact black, so long as it's in the interests of who he's working for.&nbsp; Worse, I might posit, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/g2/story/0,3604,945381,00.html">are those commentators</a> who take advantage of the slightest opportunity <a href="http://www.instituteofopinion.com/2013/04/liberal-hawks-where-are-they-now/">to push their lost cause</a>, who in the face of all the evidence even <a href="https://twitter.com/daaronovitch/status/601139914856599553">now argue for more of the same</a>.&nbsp; Campbell, like Aziz, might be a nice guy when you get to know him, as Charles Kennedy, a more than decent judge of character felt.&nbsp; The rest of us can only judge based on the face those like Campbell present to the world.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-20142631479440475372015-06-05T12:14:00.002+01:002015-06-05T12:14:41.949+01:00Controlled chaos.<center><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/_fs5O_6beBk" width="480"></iframe><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/gvhQydwewmM" width="480"></iframe></center>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-53177391747960149292015-06-04T20:07:00.003+01:002015-06-04T20:07:52.661+01:00Helping jihadists in Syria while still prosecuting those who come back? No, we wouldn't do that.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">Speaking as we were of the deficiencies of the Crown Prosecution Service, it would be remiss not to mention the collapse on Monday of <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jun/01/trial-swedish-man-accused-terrorism-offences-collapse-bherlin-gildo">the about to start terrorism trial of</a> <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3105884/Terror-suspect-Bherlin-Gildo-freed-intelligence-services-refuse-hand-evidence.html">Swedish national Bherlin Gildo</a>.&nbsp; Precisely what circumstances were behind the arrest of Gildo, who was only in the country to get a connecting flight to Manila, are opaque to begin with.&nbsp; Stopped at <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/oct/03/swedish-national-arrested-heathrow-terror-offences">Heathrow under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act</a>, he was charged with attending a terrorist training camp in Syria, as well as having in his possession information likely to be useful for terrorism.&nbsp; And indeed, Gildo made no attempt to deny he had been in Syria, fighting alongside the al-Nusra Front, al-Qaida's affiliate in the country.&nbsp; He hardly could when <a href="http://translate.google.co.uk/translate?hl=en&amp;sl=sv&amp;tl=en&amp;u=http%3A%2F%2Fgudmundson.blogspot.co.uk%2F2012%2F12%2Fsvensk-jihadist-poserar-med-manniskolik.html">like so many other jihadis he was keen on posing for the camera</a>, including with dead bodies.<br /><br />Surely then another open and shut case.&nbsp; Except Gildo's defence had the bright idea of bothering to put some work in for their client, and presented evidence <a href="http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n08/seymour-m-hersh/the-red-line-and-the-rat-line">mainly in the form of news reports</a> on how the intelligence agencies had been secretly training and supplying weapons to armed groups in Syria.&nbsp; The government has also recogised the <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2012/11/neither-one-thing-nor-other.html">Syrian opposition "as the sole legitimate representative"</a> of the Syrian people, despite how the Syrian opposition mainly consists of a tiny and ever dwindling number of so-called moderates and a complete mess of Islamists of various hues, from the more radical than Hamas variety to our pals in Islamic State.<br /><br />You might then have expected the prosecution to dismiss the notion the UK government had been in any way helping out a group affiliated to al-Qaida, or even the non-moderate opposition as a whole.&nbsp; If they refused to, or didn't disclose the information requested by the defence, that would be a tacit admission that we haven't the foggiest idea where the "non-lethal" materiel we do know has been provided has gone, let alone the alleged shipments of weapons, wouldn't it?&nbsp; It would seem so, and yet rather than dispel such an absurd notion, <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/11644227/Old-Bailey-trial-of-terror-suspect-collapses-after-security-services-refuse-to-say-who-they-helped-in-Syria.html">the prosecution instead dropped the case</a>.<br /><br />Fairly apparent is that the arrest of Gildo was a result of dealings between the authorities and the Swedish intelligence agencies.&nbsp; Gildo returned home with the apparent help of the Swedes, where there have been no prosecutions of those who have gone to fight in the country.&nbsp; Whether he broke an agreement he had with them, or terminated the mutual relationship they believed to have developed, it's difficult to see precisely why he would have been stop and arrested here, various jihadist propaganda found on his laptop or not, unless it was as a favour on the part of MI5.&nbsp; They clearly didn't expect Gildo to end up being represented by the ever tenacious Gareth Peirce, nor that something done for reasons we'll never know could have potentially exposed the activities of MI6 in providing support to the Syrian rebels.&lt;<br /><br />The surprise is that in none of the previous prosecutions of those who've travelled to Syria to fight was a similar defence attempted.&nbsp; The vast majority have involved Islamic State, which the West has never directly backed, although our allies in the Middle East may well have done, but this wasn't the case at the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-30213771">trial of the Nawaz brothers.</a>&nbsp; Not only did neither of the brothers actually take part in fighting, staying only at a training camp for a month, they joined a group that became part of the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_Front_%28Syria%29">Islamic Front</a>, a jihadist but opposed to Islamic State coalition of various factions.&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><br /><br /><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">Despite the Crown Prosecution Service saying the dropping of the Gildo case <a href="http://www.expressandstar.com/news/uk-news/2015/06/01/terror-case-against-swede-collapses/">will have no bearing on other prosecutions</a> relating to Syria, it surely provides the Nawaz brothers with a line of appeal: if the government cannot guarantee it is not providing support to groups like the Islamic Front, then surely their conviction is unsafe.&nbsp; Considering it refused to do so in a case involving al-Nusra, which is a specifically proscribed organisation, it hardly seems likely to be able to do with Junud al-Sham.&nbsp; As with policy on Syria as a whole, what an utter mess, and one entirely of our own making.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-26700765317083618262015-06-03T23:39:00.000+01:002015-06-04T00:05:52.724+01:00Coulson: merely a liar, not a perjurer.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;"><a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-32931204">Andy Coulson is a liar</a>.&nbsp; Indeed, he is not just your simple, run of the mill, garden liar, telling his wife that hideous dress really does look fabulous, continuing to maintain that ex-lover Rebekah Brooks is innocent, etc.&nbsp; He has repeatedly lied under oath.&nbsp; <a href="http://septicisle1.blogspot.com/2012/07/leveson-and-crumbling-of-empires.html">He lied under oath at the phone hacking trial</a>, before finally the biggest lie of them all, that he had no knowledge of hacking whatsoever and it had all been conducted, authorised and paid for by his underlings collapsed in his third day in the witness box.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/phone-hacking/10770259/Andy-Coulson-I-listened-to-hacked-David-Blunkett-voicemails-into-affair.html">Yes, he had listened to recordings</a> of then home secretary David Blunkett's voicemails as played to him by chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck, but he didn't know such a thing was illegal and he immediately put a stop to such a disgusting abuse of a secretary of state's privacy, honest injun.<br /><br />The jury saw through it, as did everyone else.&nbsp; Coulson's peformance at the Old Bailey was not however his first instance of telling the most outrageous of lies while under oath.&nbsp; Called by Tommy Sheridan at the Scottish politician's own perjury trial, <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/dec/09/andy-coulson-phone-hacking-sheridan">Coulson denied having any knowledge whatsoever of Glenn Mulcaire</a>, the News of the World's private detective phone hacker-in-chief.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2010/12/coulson-in-knowing-nothing-shocker.html">At the time I asked if there had ever been an instance</a> of someone facing a charge of perjury as a consequence of giving evidence at a perjury trial, and lo, so did it come to pass.&nbsp; The case was repeatedly delayed, first by all the investigations in England into phone hacking, then by the election, lest the potential conviction of the prime minister's former head of communications for perjury while still in his employ have any desperately unfair impact on the result, <a href="https://www.byline.com/project/8/article/45">but did eventually begin three weeks ago</a>.<br /><br /><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jun/03/andy-coulson-cleared-of-perjury-in-scottish-court">Coulson's acquittal today</a>, which is of a piece with the aforementioned acquittal of Rebekah Brooks and many of the Sun journalists on charges of misconduct in public office, is not that surprising given the Scottish definition of precisely what perjury is.&nbsp; What is surprising is that as with so many of these cases, the prosecution itself was unutterably lacking.&nbsp; The Crown had over four years to get its case against Coulson in order, or rather, potentially, to realise that it didn't have one despite the blatancy of Coulson's untruths.&nbsp; At every point Lord Burns, the presiding judge, appears to have given the Crown the benefit of the doubt: the case proceeded despite Coulson's defence lawyer, <a href="https://www.byline.com/project/8/article/70">Murdo MacLeod QC advancing the exact same arguments that belatedly saw his client acquitted</a> in closed court before the trial began.&nbsp; Burns let the prosecution make its case, then decided that it had indeed completely failed to prove that Coulson's evidence in Sheridan's perjury trial had been relevant to his conviction.&nbsp; In fact, it didn't really even begin to do so.<br /><br /><a href="http://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/search-judgments/judgment?id=c377daa6-8980-69d2-b500-ff0000d74aa7">As Burns summed up</a>, in Scotland at least, <a href="http://www.scotland-judiciary.org.uk/Upload/Documents/HMAvAndrewCoulsonjuryexplanation030615.pdf">"not every lie amounts to perjury"</a> (PDF) .&nbsp; Despite what some were quick to claim, Coulson was not cleared of lying under oath.&nbsp; He without a shadow of a doubt <a href="https://www.byline.com/project/8/article/66">did lie under cross-examination from Tommy Sheridan</a>.&nbsp; That Coulson was prepared to risk not just his own career but also that of the man he chose to serve by doing so is a measure of his hubris and eventual nemesis.&nbsp; His lies were not however integral to Sheridan being found guilty; despite Sheridan advancing the claim that he had been hacked by the News of the World, evidence given by a Metropolitan police officer contradicted the notion.&nbsp; Sheridan did indeed feature in one of Glenn Mulcaire's notebooks, filled with the phone numbers and PIN codes of so many other phone hacking victims, but no further evidence was discovered to prove Sheridan was among them.&nbsp; Sheridan in his summing up painted his calling of Coulson as potentially irrelevant, but justified it as necessary as part of "other issues that have to be considered, not for you, but other issues…about conduct in public life, about power about who can do things and who can break the law and get away with it". He also argued it was "a public service and a public duty to try and expose wrongdoing".<br /><br />The Crown was rather in a bind.&nbsp;<a href="http://tommyslawyer.co.uk/hma-v-coulson-scottish-crown-sabotages-prosecution/"> It could hardly call Sheridan to expand on precisely</a> what his intentions were and why in fact his questioning and Coulson's answers were relevant to the conviction.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jun/03/andy-coulson-perjury-trial-echoes-hacking-scandal-sheridan-case">As the Graun points out</a>, it was the Crown's case in the original trial that any use of the dark arts against Sheridan, of which there hadn't been any anyway, was irrelevant.&nbsp; To then admit that, err, perhaps there had been would be a contradiction too far and provide <a href="http://r.search.yahoo.com/_ylt=A9mSs3C0fm9VuUUAEwhLBQx.;_ylu=X3oDMTEyNzA1cjE1BGNvbG8DaXIyBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDQjAyOTRfMQRzZWMDc3I-/RV=2/RE=1433399093/RO=10/RU=http%3a%2f%2fwww.bbc.co.uk%2fnews%2fuk-scotland-28662098/RK=0/RS=I31RVjgahn7Sv.HPzfVGDGLqYNA-">further ammunition to the review of his conviction</a>.&nbsp; Incompetence does still rear its head: Burns was not given the rulings made prior to and during the Sheridan trial over the admissibility of hacking evidence, which deemed it was relevant.&nbsp; And while Sheridan may well not have been hacked, his associate Joan McAlpine definitely was.&nbsp; There's also the question, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/law/2015/apr/28/lord-janner-alleged-victims-formal-review-dpp-decision-not-to-prosecute-child-abuse-claims">as raised over the non-prosecution of Lord Janner</a>, of whether it should have been left up to the jury to decide if they felt Coulson's evidence had been relevant.<br /><br />Lord Burns' highlighting of the Scottish law on perjury does nonetheless all but suggest that north of the border the oath isn't to be taken literally.&nbsp; Apparently you only need tell the truth up to a point; juries can distinguish between evidence from a witness that is clearly fanciful while still accepting other things they say as fact, as Burns writes.&nbsp; It's quite true that if everyone who lied under oath was prosecuted the courts would do little else, and yet it seems perverse that a judge can accept that someone who was in such a position of authority and power as Coulson can treat the oath with contempt and walk free, claiming vindication no less.<br /><br />What matters however is the law, and regardless of whether or not the case was pursued competently or with total dedication, with perjury being so narrowly defined it was always going to be difficult to achieve a conviction.&nbsp; The same could be said of many of the prosecutions of Sun journalists in England, which have in the main seen the journalists acquitted while their sources, disgracefully, <a href="https://www.byline.com/project/8/article/43">have often been convicted and imprisoned</a>.&nbsp; These prosecutions, which are all the more questionable after a <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/mar/31/crown-prosecution-service-to-review-charges-under-operation-elveden">Court of Appeal ruling that a judge had</a> misdirected the jury in one trial, resulted from the handing over to the Met of a massive cache of internal documentation, as provided by News Corp's Management Standards Committee.&nbsp; If the purpose, as critics have long suspected, was to focus attention on the misdeeds of individual journalists rather than on those commissioning their stories and paying their wages, then it seems to have gone entirely according to plan.<br /><br />Nor does the performance of the CPS inspire confidence should charges eventually be forthcoming <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/may/21/mirror-phone-hacking-drove-celebrities-to-drink-paranoia-and-hell">over the phone hacking at the Mirror group of newspapers</a>.&nbsp; Just as News International maintained its "one lone reporter" line until it could no longer do so, such was the weight of evidence, so too Trinity Mirror denied any wrongdoing until finally the logjam was broken by the case brought by a group of celebrities.&nbsp; Former chief executive Sly Bailey <a href="https://www.journalism.co.uk/news/trinity-mirror-sly-bailey-insists-no-evidence-of-phone-hacking-leveson-inquiry/s2/a547496/">almost certainly lied to the Leveson inquiry</a>, while current CEO Simon Fox, who previously took HMV to the brink of collapse, claimed once they were convinced hacking <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/may/24/trinity-mirror-simon-fox-hacking">had taken place they acted</a>.&nbsp; Mr Justice Mann in fact had to order the company to make clear exactly what it was it was admitting to last September, <a href="http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Ch/2015/1482.html#para35">rather than just in the "general terms" it had</a>.&nbsp; His ruling also made clear that he accepted the evidence of James Hipwell (one of those imprisoned following the City Slickers affair) on hacking at the Daily Mirror, and how it "implicates the newspaper at levels above the journalists investigating the stories".&nbsp; Let's hope Alison Saunders and friends have more success with Piers Morgan than her predecessor did with Rebekah Brooks, eh?</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com1tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-37685197317282004272015-06-02T21:41:00.003+01:002015-06-03T17:52:29.953+01:00The Charles Kennedy I didn't know.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">In common with most of my fellow journalists commissioned to write about him following his untimely death, I never actually met Charles "Charlie" Kennedy, as he was universally known to all us political commentators.&nbsp; A fearsomely tall man, muscularly built and with a booming voice, you most certainly would have seen him coming.</span><br /><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;"><br />And yet from such low beginnings did this titan of Liberal politics rise to lead his merry band into the coveted third party position it wishes it still retained.&nbsp; Born on the banks of Loch Lochbaer to parents from parts unknown, he fought against the twin barriers of being ginger and Scottish from the start.&nbsp; Known as "Charlie" at school, he disdained the local custom of hanging around the local newsagents swigging from a bottle of Buckfast, and instead preferred to attend debates at the local corn exchange, where he first gained his liking for a wee dram or 13.&nbsp; It was also here that he became known as something of a bruiser, objecting to a particular point of view from the local son of the manse, a certain Alex Ferguson, by giving him a firm punch on the bottom.&nbsp; It was an incident that led to Ferguson never speaking to Chaz again, and a lifetime ban from Old Trafford.<br /><br />Like so many young people, Chalkie had to leave school on finishing exams.&nbsp; Despite an indifferent academic career up until that point, he was accepted by Glasgow University to read ancient Aramaic, a choice that seemed strange to everyone who knew him at that point as "Bluff" Charlie.&nbsp; He nonetheless excelled, not only at his studies but also at anything he seemingly turned his hand to: Chattanooga swiftly became president of the student union, war correspondent for the Scotsman and also won the Watney's Red Barrel Have I Gone Blind Yet? championship 1981.&nbsp; He likewise gained notoriety for his ability to seduce both male and female contemporaries, such was the raw animal magnetism he radiated at this stage in his life.&nbsp; Later described as the Scottish Lynn Barber, it is estimated he slept with over 6,000 people in his first term alone.<br /><br />Although offered the then vacant role of James Bond by MGM, Chaffinch knew his future lay in politics.&nbsp; Unexpectedly winning the seat of Morose, Skye and Balamory at the first attempt for the nascent Dr Death Nuclear Doom party in 1983, he joined fellow future household names such as Geoffrey Dickens, Robert Kilroy-Silk and Gyles Brandreth at Westminster.&nbsp; Such associations understandably led to the much too young Chappaquiddick taking solace in the bottle, to which he invariably returned throughout his parliamentary career.&nbsp; As however by the standards of the time his drinking was considered to be social, only requiring medical intervention 4 times over the space of 5 years, it was little remarked upon.<br /><br />Kennedy was by this point rising in the estimation of the Liberal Democrat party leadership, as the David Owen-led Doom party had dissolved into.&nbsp; Charlie further built public recognition by appearing on a number of popular television shows, including That's My Dog, Supermarket Sweep, Bullseye and most notably, Have I Got News for You?, where he sat alongside Paul Merton trying to get a word in edgeways.&nbsp; Such performances made him a natural frontrunner for the Lib Dem leadership after the sudden death of Paddy Ashdown in a tragic hat-swallowing stunt, winning the contest by a landslide, receiving 29 votes out of 30 in the membership ballot.<br /><br />The great turning point in Charlie's political journey occurred with his decision to oppose the Iraq war.&nbsp; Advised against rocking the boat from both within and outside his party, as well as warned by friend Alastair Campbell to avoid walking alone in woodland or up mountains, he ignored all such entreaties, going as far as to attend the 25 million strong 15th Feb 2003 protest in London.&nbsp; He electrified the crowd with his "I don't think this war thing's a good idea, on the whole" oratory, and for a moment "Chaz-mania" swept the country.&nbsp; Two years later he led his party to its best ever result in a general election, winning 62 seats in the Commons.<br /><br />His success was also to be his downfall.&nbsp; Impatient, ambitious colleagues within the party, concerned that his drinking would eventually cause it incalculable damage briefed extensively against him.&nbsp; A last ditch effort by Kennedy to flush out his opponents in a leadership contest lasted all of a day before he resigned and accepted he would not stand again.&nbsp; His successor, the 154-year-old Methuselah Campbell, himself only lasted 18 months in the role before he was smothered by Nicholas "Nick" Clegg.<br /><br />Chaz returned to the wilderness, an embittered if still witty and well-loved figure, and was one of only three others in the party with the foresight to abstain on the vote on whether to go into government with the Conservatives in 2010.&nbsp; His refusal to endorse the coalition did not save him from the great Sturgeon surge of 2015, losing not only his seat but also we must speculate in the most tasteless way possible much else besides.&nbsp; In detail we journalists and <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/jun/02/charles-kennedy-celia-munro-confidante-tragedies-alcoholism">his now talkative "confidantes" must discuss</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/caronmlindsay/status/605760646060351489">his demons</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/caronmlindsay/status/605760844627095552">and</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/caronmlindsay/status/605761299797188608">flaws</a>, rather than wonder precisely how it was such a thoroughly decent man could be treated so shoddily and with such little respect by those around him who claimed to be his friends.&nbsp; A party leader who was human enough to admit to a drink problem despite never being caught in public the worse for wear and yet was still punished for it?&nbsp; Certainly, we shall not see his like again.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-38063961399112861312015-06-01T22:27:00.001+01:002015-06-02T18:05:01.334+01:00Corruption, Fifa and humbug.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">When it comes down to it, there's nothing that warms my cold, cynical heart as much as some good old fashioned humbuggery.&nbsp; Watching the Eurovision song contest a couple of Saturdays ago, the crowd had the temerity to boo as a summary of the points was given, Russia at that time being in the lead.&nbsp; I don't recall exactly what one of the presenters said, but it was along the lines of please don't bring politics into this especially when this year's theme is <a href="http://www.eurovision.tv/page/news?id=vienna_2015_slogan_revealed">"building bridges"</a>.&nbsp; Eurovision is of course as much about politics as it is a festival of camp and instantly forgettable songs, hence the only people you can ever remember winning it are Abba, Bucks Fizz, Dana International, Lordi and last year's sensation, Conchita Wurst.&nbsp; Every year the same countries vote for each other, and every year the same people get slightly pissy about how manifestly corrupt the whole thing is, then the next day they forget and the experience repeats when May rolls round again.<br /><br />We must then discuss the unfortunate problems at Fifa.&nbsp; Good lord did the media spend the back end of last week <a href="http://news.sky.com/story/1492953/sepp-blatter-wins-fifth-term-lets-go-fifa">in a state of incredibly amusing hysteria</a> <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/sepp-blatter/11641473/Sepp-Blatter-five-time-Fifa-president-is-the-Ernst-Stavro-Blofeld-of-global-football.html">at the brassneck of Sepp Blatter</a>, <a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_spot/2014/07/15/sepp_blatter_is_the_king_of_world_cup_jerks.html">the old rogue refusing to stand down</a> despite the rest of the board being <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/football/2015/may/27/fifa-officials-world-cup-fraud-us-prosecutors">under suspension, arrest or having already pleaded guilty to being only slightly less crooked</a> than Robert Maxwell.&nbsp; He didn't stand down because he knew he had the support of enough delegates to hang on, at least for now: <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/may/31/fifa-sepp-blatter-champion-world-football-africa-asia">as Vivek Chaudhary goes against the grain in the Graun to point out</a>, Blatter has <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/football/2015/may/28/sepp-blatter-fifa-africa-zambia">legitimately helped enough confederations in both Africa and Asia</a> to outvote the majority of European and Latin American countries that have now turned against him.&nbsp; Yes, there probably still is an element of graft in some of those dealings, but no one's managed as yet to find a trail of evidence leading back to Blatter himself, despite as it appears the best efforts of the Americans.<br /><br />The obvious cliché everyone reaches for in these circumstances is Casablanca, as so many find themselves, shocked, shocked, that there could possibly be corruption at play in the handing out of hosting rights to tournaments and multi-billion dollar marketing and advertising schemes.&nbsp; Oh, the newly appointed US attorney general Loretta Lynch wailed, <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2015/05/27/how-watergate-helps-explain-how-the-u-s-can-prosecute-fifa-officials/?wpisrc=nl_pmpol&amp;wpmm=1">the kickbacks have "profoundly harmed a multitude of victims"</a>, not just the fans, but the "youth leagues and developing countries that should benefit from the revenue generated by the commercial rights these organizations hold".&nbsp; And you think, I'm sorry, when did youth leagues and developing countries benefit from any sporting extravaganza ever without something being wanted in return?&nbsp; It just doesn't happen, regardless of whether cash-stuffed brown envelopes are handed out or if less obvious if-you-scratch-my-back arrangements are the order of the day.&nbsp; The biggest legacy from the London Olympics is going to be <a href="http://uk.westfield.com/stratfordcity/">that fucking shopping mall</a> and <a href="http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/9374702/londons-real-olympic-legacy-paying-to-build-the-stadium-twice/">West Ham getting the stadium practically gratis</a>, which is very nice indeed for those captains of industry <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Gold_%28businessman%29">Gold</a>, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Sullivan_%28publisher%29">Sullivan</a> and <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karren_Brady#Political_career">Baroness Brady of Knightsbridge</a>.<br /><br />Blatter's great mistake has been in not respecting Europe and especially England as the footballing superpowers they so clearly are.&nbsp; Letting Germany host in 2006 simply wasn't enough; few begrudged Japan and South Korea hosting in 2002, or the World Cup going to Africa in 2010, nor Brazil in 2014, despite it becoming ever clearer that the latter two were as reliant on bungs as the subsequent awards have been.&nbsp; Had Fifa been cleverer, they would have let our good selves host in 2018, rather than the visibly corrupt Russians.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2010/12/that-strange-feeling-of-deja-vu.html">Our bid was unbelievably parochial and self-obsessed</a>, yet it would have meant we could indulge in some good ol' football's coming home feel good crap instead of bitterly looking for excuses for why the damn Russians got it instead.&nbsp; Going a step further and choosing Qatar was just asking for it.&nbsp; It's one thing trying, as Sepp Blatter has always attempted, to push football beyond its heartlands of Europe and Latin America, and another to hand it to a country that gives kleptocracy a bad name.&nbsp; A country so tiny and has such extreme weather conditions that hundreds of <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/06/you-cant-shame-shameless.html">enslaved workers drop dead in the process of building the stadia</a>.&nbsp; Yes, this is going to be an incredible success, I can just feel it.<br /><br />More ludicrous still however <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/football/2015/jun/01/fifa-football-association-culture-secretary-john-whittingdale">has been the reaction of politicians</a> and the media, both of which know corruption, nepotism, patronage and abuses of power when they see them, and boy are they seeing them now.&nbsp; So absurd has the sense of moral superiority become that no one seems to have noticed that the apparent clean pair of hands standing against Blatter last week <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/football/2015/may/29/fifa-presidential-election-who-is-prince-ali-bin-al-hussein-sepp-blatter-challenger">was the offspring of the Jordanian autocrat king</a>, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_Ali_bin_Hussein">trained at Sandhurst</a> along with all those other dictators in waiting, while just to mirror things up the president of the FA is none other than Prince William, clearly there on merit.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-32911782">Why oh why are the sponsors not taking a tougher line</a> has been one of the other cries, as though the likes of Visa and McDonalds could give a damn about a few days of bad publicity when in their minds it's <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/football/2015/may/30/why-businesses-still-need-fifa-sponsorship">the brand exposure of a month of sport</a> that makes all the difference.&nbsp; This isn't like the News of the World, where a dying medium could be abandoned without a moment's thought.&nbsp; That, and as the <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/fifa-corruption-arrests-nike-reported-to-be-multinational-sportswear-company-at-centre-of-bribery-claims-over-brazil-shirt-deal-10282242.html">allegations against Nike and Brazil may well show</a>, they're just as ensnared in the dealings as the Fifa executives themselves.<br /><br />We should then <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/football/2015/may/31/england-boycott-2018-world-cup-andy-burnham">be ready to boycott the 2018 World Cup</a>, just to show how truly disappointed we are.&nbsp; <a href="http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/660/media/images/83337000/gif/_83337004_sunfront1.gif">The Sun demands Uefa takes a firmer line on Blatter the "tyrant"</a>, as clearly it's implausible he didn't know what his underlings were up to, unlike, say Rupert Murdoch, or Rebekah Brooks.&nbsp; A jury cleared her on that score after all.&nbsp; There's also nothing to be concerned or wonder about in the <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2015/02/one-solution-to-scudamore-piracy.html">£5.14bn deal recently agreed between the Premier League and the broadcasters</a>, while UEFA looks set to water down the <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/football/2015/may/18/uefa-relax-financial-fair-play-michel-platini">financial fair play rules on the basis</a> they could have the perverse effect of stopping other obscenely rich individuals from buying clubs and success along with it.&nbsp; Think there might have been something equally fishy about <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/02/the-collusion-and-complicity-of-ioc.html">the IOC giving the Winter Olympics to Sochi</a>, or how the IOC has just as strict rules as Fifa does on athletes daring to make political statements, which in turn are written into the contracts said athletes need to sign to get funding?&nbsp; Don't be silly.&nbsp; Or perhaps you might wonder if rather than Blatter being the embodiment of hubris and shamelessness, it could instead be politicians who have no qualms whatsoever about <a href="http://leftfootforward.org/2013/07/is-david-cameron-our-prime-minister-or-just-a-traveling-arms-merchant/">greasing the wheels when it comes to arms deals with dictators</a>, so long as it's good for UK plc.&nbsp; Who cares a fig for the people in Yemen, Bahrain or Syria?&nbsp; There's plenty more where they came from, just as the Qataris know there's plenty of Nepalese waiting for the chance to die in Doha.<br /><br />Money, like it or not, corrupts everything.&nbsp; We've seen it with the banks, where the barrel is completely rotten but nothing can be done lest it disintegrate entirely.&nbsp; The FA and the Premier League like to think of themselves as better than Fifa when they're just as lucre obsessed, and have figureheads only slightly less objectionable than a Swiss who doesn't know when to quit.&nbsp; We've seen it when not so long ago our then prime minister <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2008/07/victory-for-arms-dealers-kleptocrats.html">ordered a halt to a corruption investigation into the al-Yamanah weapons deal</a>, as the saintly Saudis had threatened to stop sharing intelligence with us if we didn't.&nbsp; Few kicked up a fuss beyond the usual suspects.<br />&nbsp;</span><br /><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">Don't let us get our way at the old kicky ball game though, and just sit back and watch the repercussions fly.&nbsp; It might take years, we might not be personally responsible for the downfall when it comes, but it'll happen eventually.&nbsp; We might not win at Eurovision, be any good at football itself, or be much other than an inexorably fading nation with an incredibly high opinion of itself, but boy can we bear a grudge.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-13134942613106387482015-05-29T11:58:00.003+01:002015-05-29T11:58:52.425+01:00Justice.<center><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/iF-5tvaVmvk" width="480"></iframe><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/wkXuSd5lsGA" width="480"></iframe></center>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-63270886438012582162015-05-28T18:00:00.000+01:002015-05-28T23:14:26.370+01:00Film review: V/H/S.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">You know what I miss? Stupid, dumb, meat and potatoes slasher films.&nbsp; There's a killer, he kills people, mostly idiotic, annoying teenagers who may or may not have been in some way responsible for why he is the way he is, he does it in inventive, amusing ways, with or without wisecracks, until there's only one left, often a young woman, who manages to outsmart him.&nbsp; The door is left open for a sequel, it's all accomplished in 80-100 minutes, the colour theme of the film is vibrant rather than washed out brown/green, it's not lensed by a cinematographer with Saint Vitus' dance, and the editor refuses the temptation to make a bazillion cuts every nanosecond.<br /><br />Is that too much to ask?&nbsp; Is it really necessary for every other new "horror" film to be a part of the "found footage" genre, or to follow the lead set by the Paranormal Activity series of films, which seemingly exist only so as to make life even more miserable for the zero-hour, minimum wage slaves at the local World of Cine who have to pick up all the spilt popcorn between screenings?&nbsp; How is it I cannot think of a single horror film released in the past 5 years other than <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1959332/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1">American Mary</a> that I would watch again?&nbsp; I haven't seen It Follows, You're Next or As Above, So Below yet, all of which have had somewhat decent reviews, but I'm really not getting my hopes up for any of them.<br /><br />And so we come to <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2105044/?ref_=rvi_tt">V/H/S</a>.&nbsp; Not only is it a found footage horror film, it's a portmanteau/anthology found footage horror film!&nbsp; That means there's not just 120 minutes of shaky, wibbly, constantly breaking up and decayed video to enjoy, but it's broken up into segments, sort of but not really tied together by the conceit of a gang of idiots breaking into a house to steal a tape, only they don't know what it is or what's on it.<br /><br />Except the film doesn't so much as bother to follow that conceit, as on a couple of occasions the next segment just begins without one of our intrepid heroes pressing play.&nbsp; Still, we're not really here for the plot, we're here for the spookums aren't we, so what does it matter?<br /><br />The film then opens with a sexual assault.&nbsp; Yep.&nbsp; Turns out our narrators, or at least guides have been making $50 a pop by grabbing women on the street and exposing their breasts, all the while filming their attacks.&nbsp; These are then posted online.&nbsp; They do this, needless to say, in broad daylight, without covering their faces.&nbsp; Only one of the group has found out they can make a whole heap more dough by just breaking into this one house and stealing a tape.&nbsp; They don't ask for any more details, they'll just know when they've found it.<br /><br />There is, of course, a dead guy in the house, in front of the obligatory stack of TVs and video machines.&nbsp; Which tape is it?&nbsp; Why do they not just gather up all the tapes and leave to review them elsewhere, as indeed one of the group suggests at one point, only to decide it's a fanciful idea?&nbsp; Why are they filming everything they're doing?&nbsp; Why I have not already switched this rubbish off?<br /><br />The leery, nasty tone set from the off continues in our first segment, Amateur Night, directed by David Bruckner.&nbsp; Our new group of 3 bros have only scored a pair of those spy glasses off the interwebs, the sort "used" by reality porn producers to film them picking up a random woman off the street and then having a rather jolly time together!&nbsp; Guess what they're going to do with the glasses?&nbsp; Do you think things won't go according to plan?&nbsp; Do you think that despite the implication being this is meant to suggest objectifying women isn't a good thing it won't in fact do anything of the kind?&nbsp; Do you think the pay off despite everything being wrong will be worth it, rather than a mess of CGI and shaky cam?&nbsp; Does the director think everyone in the audience won't be asking themselves WHY HASN'T HE TAKEN THE GODDAMN GLASSES OFF?<br /><br />Next up is director Ti West, known for 2009's <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1172994/?ref_=nv_sr_1">House of the Devil</a>, with "Second Honeymoon".&nbsp; His segment ends with one of the goons asking, "what the fuck was that?".&nbsp; My sentiments exactly.&nbsp; The one thing that can be said in its favour is that if you were to find a tape with a real murder filmed on it, it would probably make as little sense as his section does.&nbsp; Couple on a road trip, film themselves as they go along, only there's someone letting themselves into their hotel room who picks the camera up and records them as they sleep, only THEY USE A LIGHT AND YET IT SOMEHOW DOESN'T WAKE THE COUPLE UP.&nbsp; Nor does the couple notice anything amiss, apart from some money having gone missing.&nbsp; It's dreadful.<br /><br />We then have Glenn McQuaid's "Tuesday the 17th", which as you would expect from the title is sort of playing with genre conventions except not really.&nbsp; Best of the bunch which is saying very little is Joe Swanberg's The Sick Thing That Happened To Emily When She Was Younger, which consists of Skype chats between a couple living apart, with the Emily of the title convinced her apartment is haunted.&nbsp; It is, and yet it isn't.&nbsp; In fact it's something far worse.&nbsp; It's not in the slightest bit scary, but it does switch things up after what's gone before, although again there's some unnecessary leeriness.&nbsp; Last is "10/31/98", and we are back once again into everything that is wrong with the found footage genre.&nbsp; Our gang of slightly older bros don't think to call the police and instead steam in to save the victim of some crazies at a house where they thought there was a Halloween party, with the expected consequences.<br /><br />The problem with "found footage" is it asks you to suspend your disbelief twice over.&nbsp; While you can accept the horror genre's tropes of the victims of the masked assailant being stupid and either unable/unwilling to call for help, to do so when you're also being asked to believe that what you're viewing is a document of something that happened is a step too far.&nbsp; It can work only in certain specific circumstances, whether it be in the woods like Blair Witch Project, away from a phone signal, or in the depths of the rainforest <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0078935/?ref_=nv_sr_1">as in Cannibal Holocaust</a>.&nbsp; That the high point of the genre is still the one that started it all rather suggests it's not going to be improved upon.&nbsp; Please filmmakers, for the sake of our sanity, give it a rest.&nbsp;</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com2tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-32472390041000720052015-05-27T23:59:00.000+01:002015-05-28T23:39:27.105+01:00The Queen's speech: the worst is here.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">My yearly shtick when it <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-32894214">comes to the Queen's speech</a> <a href="http://septicisle1.blogspot.com/2014/06/its-not-peak-its-plateau.html">is to bore on about how fantastically</a> <a href="http://septicisle1.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-cavalcade-of-idiocy-rolls-on.html">absurd the spectacle is</a>.&nbsp; People in full possession of their faculties walking backwards; the shutting of doors in faces in reference to something that happened during the reign of Ethelred the Unready; Lords and Ladies done up as though they're going to an especially classy fancy dress keys in the bowl party afterwards; the BBC in full obsequious mode, which still isn't good enough for the Mail and Telegraph; and its heralding, defining, dunderheaded centrepiece is Brenda, in full regalia complete with crown weighing the same as a new born infant, reading out an essay inscribed on goatskin vellum as written by a slightly dim 15-year-old GCSE politics student.&nbsp; Liz, bless her, is 90 next year.&nbsp; Surely the time has come for her to tell the idiots who keep insisting she involves herself in this pantomime to fawk off.<br /><br />Only the point has finally been reached where it's not the pomp and circumstance itself which is most absurd, <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/queens-speech-2015">it's the speech itself</a>.&nbsp; Queenie has had to read out some nonsense in her time, and has managed somehow to keep her thoughts to herself on just what she thinks about having to say things like "Northern powerhouse".&nbsp; Never before though has the speech reached such heights of fatuity, been so obviously and deliberately contradictory, to the point where it's obvious that the Tories are rubbing everyone's noses in it, and so aggravatingly obtuse.<br /><br />It starts in the opening sentence.&nbsp; "My Government (because it is Her government, just as we serfs are subjects, not citizens) will legislate in the interests of everyone in our country".&nbsp; No, that's an impossibility; what the writer means is the government will legislate in what it believes to be everyone's best interests, which is a rather different thing altogether.&nbsp; "It will adopt a one nation approach," which means whatever the government says is a one nation approach, "helping working people get on," meaning absolutely nothing, "supporting aspiration", which means precisely what it says, "giving new opportunities to the most disadvantaged," by saying you're on your own pal, "and bringing different parts of our country together," presumably by uniting them in opposition to the Tories.<br /><br />And so it goes on.&nbsp; Apparently the long-term plan was, is to provide economic stability and security at every stage of life, which is a new one on me.&nbsp; Legislation will be brought forward to help achieve full employment, as will legislation to provide raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, and provide more people with the security of a job.&nbsp; Not with job security, take note, but the security of a job.&nbsp; Nor is the referendum on EU membership anything to do with <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2013/05/cameron-hostage-to-fortune.html">David Cameron's pathetic kowtowing to his backbenchers</a> during the coalition; no, the government will pursue reform of the European Union for the benefit of all Member States.&nbsp; What a kind, loving, generous, selfless gesture on the part of the Tories, eh?<br /><br /><a href="http://septicisle1.blogspot.com/2015/04/the-conservative-manifesto.html">On reading the Tory manifesto</a>, it seemed fairly apparent that so bonkers was much of its content it had been put together with the intention of bartering away the more reprehensible parts in the coalition negotiations.&nbsp; They weren't really going to cut £12bn from welfare, not least as they couldn't begin to explain where they could make such massive savings, and they weren't going to really legislate to make it illegal to raise income tax, national insurance or VAT, that's just unbelievably stupid.&nbsp; They're not that stupid, are they?&nbsp; No, David Cameron and George Osborne are sensible chaps underneath the laughable skin suits they wear, and the remaining Lib Dems will see they don't go through with this blazing idiocy.<br /><br />If the Tories didn't expect to be implementing their manifesto as a whole, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/may/27/david-cameron-packs-plenty-into-his-one-party-queens-speech">as we're told they didn't</a>, then winning a majority put them in a happy conundrum.&nbsp; Do they now row back from the lunatic bribes they came up with, like selling off houses they don't so much as own on the cheap, or abolishing inheritance tax, breaking promises they never believed in to begin with?&nbsp; Or do they carry on regardless, as to not do so would be to aggravate the exact people, mainly the backbenchers, who did think the party meant it?<br /><br />Well, now we have the answer.&nbsp; The strange thing is <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/law/2015/may/27/threat-exit-human-rights-act-convention-dropped-tories-cameron">all the comment on the decision to "delay" abolishing the Human Rights Act</a> and replacing it with a mythical "British" Bill of Rights, which while always a completely stupid idea and utterly pointless without leaving the European Convention is not even close to the barking mad imbecility of the manifesto promises that were in the speech.&nbsp; That getting rid of the HRA is the one thing that seems to unite the disparate elements in the Commons, important as resisting such an act of vandalism is, says much of just what isn't going to face the same level of opposition.&nbsp; It has at least <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/media/greenslade/2015/may/27/the-sun-attacks-david-cameron-over-british-bill-of-rights-delay">shown precisely how the Sun and Mail</a> intend to play matters from here on out: again, not for them concerns about putting moron restrictions on tax, but rage at how they still won't get their way, having been principally responsible for the demonisation of the HRA.&nbsp; How dare the government they got elected snub them so?<br /><br /><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/may/27/wanted-tory-moderates-party-right">As Rafael Behr wrote this morning</a>, most Tories are taking their unexpected victory as proof both of just how brilliant they are and the uselessness of their opponents.&nbsp; This is hardly surprising when the SNP, declaring itself the unofficial opposition, isn't content with its 56 seats in Scotland and would rather like to <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-32897520">force Alistair Carmichael into resigning</a> for daring to leak something that portrayed poor wee Nicola Sturgeon in a less flattering light.&nbsp; In such circumstances are bad laws passed, not least when Labour as led by Harriet Harman is in such a supine, self-absorbed mood.&nbsp; Deciding not to oppose the EU referendum which is now coming like it or not is one thing; to not continue to oppose the cut in the benefit cap to £23,000 is quite another.&nbsp; Exceptional circumstances don't apparently mean anything to a party hierarchy convinced that it was not being quite harsh enough on those on benefits that did for them.<br /><br />It's all the more dispiriting when there were quite so many <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-32898443">breathtakingly awful laws proposed in the speech</a>, including some that will directly target Labour.&nbsp; Not given a direct mention was the reintroduction of the redrawing of the constituency boundaries, destined to make a Labour majority even harder, although you can bet it will return at some stage.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/may/27/labour-funding-hit-change-political-levy-bill">Instead the Tories made do with a surprise inserting into the proposed Trade Unions Bill</a> of an opt-in system for the political fund element of union subscriptions, as clearly we can't have ordinary hard-working people funding parties, <a href="http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/steerpike/2015/02/nicola-blackwood-accepts-donation-from-banker-who-used-same-tax-avoidance-scheme-as-jimmy-carr/">as opposed to the super-rich</a>.&nbsp; The obscene hypocrisy of a government legislating to require strike ballots are supported by 40% of those eligible when it won only 36.9% of the vote meanwhile is chutzpah defined.<br /><br />Then there's the clusterfuck of Home Office bills, including not just the "extremism" bill, introduced by David Cameron saying that no longer would <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/may/13/counter-terrorism-bill-extremism-disruption-orders-david-cameron">government leave alone those who obey the law</a> and <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/may/27/wide-ranging-snoopers-charter-to-extend-powers-of-security-services">the return of a supercharged communications bill</a> destined to give the intelligence agencies total legal cover to do whatever the hell they like with our data, but also an <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/may/27/legal-highs-ban-technically-cover-alcohol-cigarettes-coffee">overarching criminalisation of (il)legal highs</a>.&nbsp; Only the government obviously can't call them that, and so has decided on "psychoactive substances" instead.&nbsp; I joked not so long back <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2015/03/5-years-in-prison-for-not-doing-your.html">it would be easier if the government started declaring what was legal</a> as opposed to illegal, and yet this is exactly what they are proposing to do.&nbsp; Yes, apparently under this new bill "any substance intended for human consumption that is capable of producing a psychoactive effect" will be made illegal, except for those it defines are legal.&nbsp; Older heads might be reminded of the difficulty government lawyers had in giving the police powers to shut down free parties, which led to <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criminal_Justice_and_Public_Order_Act_1994">the Criminal Justice Act of 94</a> defining in law the music being targeted as consisting of "sounds wholly or predominantly characterised by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats".&nbsp; It doesn't seem to have gotten through to our lawmakers the only reason the "legal high" market has flourished is precisely because of the illegality of and restrictions placed on the manufacture of MDMA and the rest, just as it didn't occur to them back in 94 that you'll never stop people from trying to enjoy themselves, but then what else is government for?&nbsp; Someone, I forget who, once said the Daily Mail owed its existence to the outrage some feel that others are out there having fun, and so the same could be said of so many of our politicians.<br /><br />There is perhaps one worthwhile bill in the whole lot, and that's the childcare act.&nbsp; Except doubling the number of hours of free childcare available for three and four-year-olds looks certain to be giving with one hand and taking with the other, as tax credits will most likely be <a href="http://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/7762">cut in the search for the £12bn from welfare</a>.&nbsp; Which just reminds us this is only the beginning of 2 years of unrelenting misery, with George Osborne due to deliver his second budget of the year on July the 8th, setting out precisely how hard and fast we're going to be screwed.&nbsp; As someone I need to thank for yet again putting up with my shit recently said, it's going to get worse before it gets better.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com2tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-45659382180086277282015-05-26T20:02:00.001+01:002015-05-27T17:03:25.445+01:00A return to May the 7th (and everything that's happened since).<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">Shallow like a line of piss / You're just a motherfucker<br /><br />(Hello readers!&nbsp; This is rather long, as in 3,000 words long, but after two weeks of feeling sorry for myself you're hopefully ready to be bored stupid once again, right?)<br /><br />Shall we, if we dare, return to May the 7th?&nbsp; Now, of course, we know that Labour's campaign was a disaster, Ed Miliband had spent 5 years making the party unelectable and that not a single member of the shadow cabinet believed in so much as a solitary policy in the manifesto.&nbsp; All these are now Facts, and cannot be disagreed with unless you are in Denial and clearly not on the side of the Modernisers blazing a trail towards a majority government in just another 5 short years.<br /><br />Still, let's forget all that for a second while I relate two personal anecdotes that should have tipped me off that Labour was about to get fucked harder than a dead duck by a deranged and randy mallard.&nbsp; First, where I work the polling station is next door.&nbsp; When I got in someone had taken it upon themselves to stick up a laminated A4 sheet on the fence next to the building that said something along the lines of "All the main political parties have conspired to cover up child abuse in their ranks.&nbsp; Are you really going to vote for people who have connived in the rape of children?"&nbsp; Believer in free speech that I am, I swiftly binned it.&nbsp; Second, previously the polling station had been in the community centre opposite rather than in the sports club slightly up the road, confusing plenty of people.&nbsp; Thinking one young couple, the bloke expensively tatted up, were similarly perplexed, I advised them where the station was.&nbsp; "Oh, we're not voting", he scoffed, as though the idea was only slightly less ridiculous than if I'd suggested they perform a Manumission-style sex show right there in the street.<br /><br />Except I put such bad omens out of my mind.&nbsp; If there was hope, it lay in the polls.&nbsp; How could they possibly be wrong? "It couldn't be closer" was the Graun's front page.&nbsp; <a href="https://twitter.com/LordAshcroft/status/596263585749278720">"All the final polls so far seem to be showing a shift towards Labour"</a>, tweeted new king of psephology Lord Ashcroft, whose constituency polls implied Labour should romp home in the Tory marginals.&nbsp; Why, even <a href="http://lordashcroftpolls.com/2015/04/finchley-golders-green/">Finchley and Golders Green looked possible for Labour</a>.&nbsp; Everyone was preparing not for the unthinkable, a Tory majority, but the kind of result that could take weeks to unpick.&nbsp; Clearly it was serious if not just the Mail and Sun were descending into paroxysms of fear at how a Labour minority government might abolish non-dom status and tax mansions, but the editor of the Telegraph no less was making impassioned pleas in the middle of the night to <a href="http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=7&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=0CE4QFjAG&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.independent.co.uk%2Fnews%2Fuk%2Fpolitics%2Fgeneralelection%2Fthe-daily-telegraphs-editor-just-mass-emailed-its-subscribers-telling-them-to-vote-tory-10232067.html&amp;ei=jrVkVZr1AeS57gbn8oHgDQ&amp;usg=AFQjCNHM8e3dKsVQCn9ukJSn5KceAH2x8g&amp;sig2=UH7Bi3oGzsIzOOzF9MiUVw">readers signed up to receive marketing emails</a>.&nbsp; The Tories were poised to declare Miliband illegitimate, Cameron was going to stay ensconced in Downing Street if the result was even remotely questionable, and <a href="http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=2&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=0CCkQFjAB&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.theguardian.com%2Fcommentisfree%2F2015%2Fmay%2F04%2Ftories-nick-clegg-lib-dem-leader-cameron&amp;ei=q7VkVYz3IITV7AbRwYPgAw&amp;usg=AFQjCNF4esTC4SOlaItxLGm--E2jPJH2hw&amp;sig2=Xxh64YZhNXShHD_kIG4Eug">saving Nick Clegg</a> was deemed more important than some Tory target seats.&nbsp; More than anything I was cautiously optimistic.&nbsp; I'm never optimistic.&nbsp; Something was horrifically, spectacularly, cataclysmically wrong, and yet I failed to see the signs.<br /><br />The clocks struck ten, David Dimbleby revealed the exit poll projection and Big Ben rang out death knells.&nbsp; Contrary to much that has been written since, the polls were only fantastically wrong on a single score.&nbsp; The 37% Tory share was just about within the 3% margin of error of most of them.&nbsp; They got the Lib Dem, UKIP and SNP shares more or less on the nose too.&nbsp; Only on Labour's dismal, catastrophic 31% (<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election/2015/results">or 30.4%, if we're being precise</a>) did they not manage to get close to just how short Ed Miliband's party was going to fall.&nbsp; Everything had been predicated on the polls being right; the parties since have claimed <a href="http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2015/05/late-swing-labours-private-polls-showed-tories-ahead-christmas">they either had an inkling or knew the Labour vote</a> was being hideously overstated, but if that's really true they didn't share their insight with anyone, not least the same journalists they spend much of their time leaking to.&nbsp; The failure was pretty much total, even if at their most pessimistic/optimistic the leaders had imagined just such a scenario.<br /><br />How were the polls so wrong?&nbsp; At this stage, you can still take your pick.&nbsp; Probably the best indication so far nonetheless is <a href="http://www.icmunlimited.com/media-centre/blog/icm-guardian-prediction-poll-deconstructing-its-performance">the breakdown by ICM of their final poll for the Graun</a>, which shows that rather than it being down to a late swing or "shy" Tories, both two of the most immediately popular explanations, including from myself, it's more likely the problem is the sampling.&nbsp; The raw data for the poll, before the weighting was applied designed to counteract the shy Tory phenomenon blamed for 92's debacle, had Labour and the Tories neck and neck on 35%.&nbsp; Indeed, it was the demographic weighting that did the most damage, boosting Labour up to 38% and the Tories down to 32%, before the subsequent weighting for past vote, turnout and adjustment for those who refuse to say who they're going to vote for now but will say who they did last time brought the figures back to 35% for Labour and 34% for the Tories.<br /><br />In other words, the best explanation we have thus far is polling, whether on the internet or by telephone, isn't able to reach the people necessary to produce a representative sample, and that unrepresentative sample is then made even worse by weighting that either needs fundamentally reconfiguring or ripping up and starting again.&nbsp; This doesn't mean there wasn't something of a late swing, or still some shy Tories, as the exit poll also underestimated the number of seats the Tories would win, but neither can plausibly explain just how massively out of whack the Tory and Labour share of the votes were.<br /><br />We must then return to my personal anecdotes, as frankly we have little else.&nbsp; First, there's an awful lot of people out there who aren't apathetic so much as apoplectic at a political elite that doesn't in fact exist.&nbsp; Yes, it probably was just a lone nutbar who stuck that sign up, and yet that person spoke for a lot of others who believe the absolute worst of what they read in the papers.&nbsp; There has yet to be the slightest evidence presented there was anything <a href="http://septicisle1.blogspot.com/2014/11/there-isnt-whitewash-at-home-office.html">like a cover-up of child abuse at Westminster</a>, as opposed to the possibility there was a lot of looking in the opposite direction, <a href="http://septicisle1.blogspot.com/2014/08/victims-today-undesirables-tomorrow.html">as we've seen in places like Rotherham for varying reasons</a>, and already people are convinced of the depravity of those in high places.<br /><br />Second, and much more fundamentally, is the failure of Labour and the left in general to get out the youth vote.&nbsp; Estimates vary as to how many 18-24 year-olds did turn out: a poll with a 9,000 strong sample for Ipsos-Mori <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/may/22/election-2015-who-voted-for-whom-labour-conservatives-turnout">suggests it could have been as low as 43%</a>, which sounds far more realistic <a href="http://www.johnband.org/blog/2015/05/09/there-was-no-late-swing-and-there-were-no-shy-tories/">than the British Election Society's estimate of 60%</a>, which was still below YouGov's "certain to vote" 69%.&nbsp; When less than half of those with arguably the most at stake couldn't be motivated enough to do something that only needs doing once every 5 years, there encapsulated is why we now have the Conservatives with a majority.&nbsp; Yes, you can blame wannabe messiahs, the vacuous stupidity of youth culture, if not the young themselves, the failure to counteract the they're all the same fatuity, which among the older saw the UKIP vote skyrocket, the fatheaded selfishness of a distinct minority and all the rest of it, but if you can't convince 18-24-year-olds to vote for something better than the whitest, most middle class bloke on the face of the planet, then frankly you deserve what you get.<br /><br />Finally, and interconnectedly, we have the Tory everything we do must be for the retiring boomers philosophy.&nbsp; So much of the talk since the election has been about how the Tories won because of how they were on the side of the aspirational, weren't going to tar and feather entrepreneurs in town centres or tax the rabbit hutches of children in central London, most of which has been from the Labour leadership challengers and other assorted "modernisers".&nbsp; Bullshit.&nbsp; The Tories won because they dedicated so much time and energy to keeping their core vote on side, with every ploy and bung going.&nbsp; Hate inheritance tax?&nbsp; We're abolishing it.&nbsp; Want to be certain we won't do anything to your benefits, although we certainly will to those of the low-paid and in-work?&nbsp; Triple locked.&nbsp; Want to blow your pension all in one go if you so wish, or buy a flat or two and then rent them out to the brats you spawned to replace yourselves?&nbsp; Already done.&nbsp; Want to generally fuck over everyone younger than you, which is funny because you don't know them?&nbsp; <a href="http://septicisle1.blogspot.com/2015/04/the-conservative-manifesto.html">Hey, that was the entire point of our manifesto</a>.&nbsp; Welcome aboard.&nbsp; We, or at least I said <a href="http://septicisle1.blogspot.com/2014/03/very-much-country-for-old-men.html">this is going to be no country for young men</a>, and lo, so it did come to pass.<br /><br />Labour did not lose on the <a href="http://septicisle1.blogspot.com/2015/04/the-labour-manifesto.html">basis of the manifesto</a>.&nbsp; The manifesto lacked passion, anger and failed to radiate strength, but it didn't want for policies which were popular, or at least the polls at the time said they were.&nbsp; Labour lost because of the above, and a few other distinct reasons.&nbsp; Ed Miliband, much as I came to love the rubber faced goon as only another sad, lonely weirdo can, just wasn't seen as prime ministerial.&nbsp; He faced a mountain and only began to scale it when it was too late to reach the summit.&nbsp; I thought the Paxman interview, when he replied with his defiant and yet sympathetic "who cares?" to how he was presented in the media, along with his refusal to play the referendum game in the Question Time debate were the kind of answers that won people over, not necessarily because they liked or agreed with what he said but because they could respect him for doing so.&nbsp; Almost certainly more damaging and what everyone else saw was the battering he received on the same show for "overspending", even if those assailing him were Tory stooges, as at least two were.&nbsp; Labour lost because it wasn't trusted on the economy.&nbsp; The party that brought the economy back from the brink, only for George Osborne to push it over the edge with his austerity programme, took the blame over and over for something it didn't do.<br /><br />By the same token, the Conservatives did not win on the basis of their dismal, hate-filled manifesto.&nbsp; They won because David Cameron, as essentially David Cameron was the Conservative campaign, was seen as more plausible.&nbsp; He spent one half of it going through the motions and then the second half trying to convince everyone just how "up 4 it" he was, talking to empty cowsheds and specially chosen farmers about where milk comes from, and yet it was enough.&nbsp; George Osborne meanwhile was kept as far away from voters as possible, doing work experience at various businesses presumably as part of community payback for stalling the recovery, while all the other favourites who have since returned to our screens and newspapers like Iain Duncan Smith, Michael Gove and Theresa May were locked away entirely lest they scare the horses.<br /><br />And you know why else?&nbsp; Because let's face it, there are a substantial minority of people in this country who aren't just ignorant cunts, they are proud and positively revel in being horrible, ignorant cunts.&nbsp; I don't mean in the oh, people who don't vote Labour are ignorant sense, as that itself is completely ignorant.&nbsp; What is ignorant is the increasing tendency on the part of very intelligent people to do themselves down on the basis <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/may/11/labour-election-defeat-britain-tristram-hunt">that they don't talk what the common people do like</a>.&nbsp; Oh, they're not like us, they don't talk like us goes the wail from people who are in fact mostly very well represented, they don't understand the life of the everyday man, when they very much do and most politicians spend far too much time if anything trying to understand exactly what Mr and Mrs Average Voter want at any precise moment in time.<br /><br />We seem to have reached a point where it's increasingly seen as snobbish to use words longer than three syllables, or indeed any word that your average 8-year-old doesn't use everyday, as ordinary people don't talk like that any more.&nbsp; No, perhaps they don't.&nbsp; Then again, to a lot of ordinary people it's perfectly normal to use a variation on fuck in every sentence, and excuse me if I'd rather our politicians didn't emulate that trait.&nbsp; This ignorance doesn't always but often does go hand in hand with the they're all the same cuntery, and rather than fight against this bigotry of low expectations, low aspirations (yes, because that's what this is) and low everything, we in fact have everyone wanting a bit of it.<br /><br />Something else some otherwise very intelligent people took from the election results was, well, at least the BNP got about ten votes.&nbsp; Why was that?&nbsp; It couldn't be down to how we now have a party that says yes, it's perfectly OK to be ignorant, insular and proud of it, could it?&nbsp; The fascist vote collapsed precisely because in UKIP there's a home for them where they don't quite feel the same level of self-hatred, nor is the media as visceral in its distaste; if anything, quite the opposite, such is the hard-on they've had for Nigel Farage if not his party as a whole.&nbsp; Not every UKIP voter fits this depiction, of course; many of those who voted UKIP in Labour's heartlands in the north for instance did so as a protest, out of a sense of being ignored and abandoned.&nbsp; All the same, many of those who did vote UKIP are hateful pricks, and if anything considering just how much of popular culture is currently dedicated to uncovering "the other" and then wiping their faces in their own vomit, it's a surprise "only" 4 million joined the Farage bandwagon.<br /><br />Lastly, *gasp*, we have to consider the sheer horror that has been the Labour leadership contest thus far.&nbsp; Within 24 hours the manifesto had been abandoned, disowned, insulted, shat upon, as had Ed.&nbsp; Looking at Yvette Cooper, Andy Burnham, and all the other wastes of flesh that frankly don't deserve to be referred to by name, I cannot see a single thing that I should care about or ever want to believe in.&nbsp; Who knows exactly what it was <a href="http://labourlist.org/2015/05/there-was-no-scandal-chuka-umunna-reveals-why-he-dropped-out-of-the-leadership-race/">that caused Chuka Umunna to drop out</a> before the contest had even begun, whether it really was he wasn't ready for his friends and relatives to be dropped into the media maelstrom, or if he was about to be exposed as a dog botherer, as it doesn't really matter which.&nbsp; That he couldn't face up to it just shows what a bottler party Labour now is, and the lack of empathy it has for those who do take on the worst that can be thrown at them.<br /><br />Ed Miliband spent 5 years having every little bit of shit that could be found directed straight back into his face.&nbsp; The surprise if anything was that by the election campaign, everything had been used already.&nbsp; There was nothing left.&nbsp; Ed's reward for having chosen to do things the difficult way?&nbsp; For his entire leadership to be treated as something that couldn't be repudiated fast enough.&nbsp; I know it's not just about his electoral failure but also how his leadership was long viewed within the party, with no one prepared to stand against him for fear it would make things worse, and yet he still deserved, deserves far better.&nbsp; Indeed, I challenge anyone to seriously tell me how any of the current line up will be a better leader, or any more capable of winning the next election.&nbsp; Rather than take a good hard look at where Labour has gone wrong across the UK, from Scotland where it certainly didn't lose because it was too left-wing, <a href="http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=11&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=0CF0QFjAK&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.theguardian.com%2Fpolitics%2F2015%2Fmay%2F21%2Fpollster-john-curtice-warns-labour-majority-2020-election-improbable-politics&amp;ei=1rlkVZy1NIqKsgH-3oDYCQ&amp;usg=AFQjCNHLXFuVnvHM6P1npoX1dEv3mmmCeQ&amp;sig2=-5ABmiKB3kKY1EvA_X3aUg">as John Curtice among many others have argued</a>, to the north where the threat to the party is not the Conservatives but UKIP, to the cities were the problem the party faces is defectors to the left, the party is still, still, obsessed with how the right-wing media depicts it rather than how real people in the marginals weren't convinced.<br /><br />Labour is haunted by the spectre of Tony Blair, despite the bastard being very much alive.&nbsp; The party doesn't seem to have realised we aren't in the 90s/early 00s any longer, where triangulation worked so long as the media was kept (somewhat) on side and the economy grew.&nbsp; We're in the 2010s, wages are still barely growing, only the luckiest among the young can afford to "aspire", and the previously dominant centre-left parties of Europe are in crisis.&nbsp; And yet all <a href="http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=8&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=0CE0QFjAH&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.independent.co.uk%2Fnews%2Fuk%2Fpolitics%2Fgeneralelection%2Felection-results-labour-battle-lines-are-drawn-as-members-battle-over-partys-ideology-in-leadership-hustings-10255767.html&amp;ei=IbxkVbSuI8HEsgHj4oC4Cw&amp;usg=AFQjCNGSXWuJ1GF0crbTGDHiJZ30mgH61g&amp;sig2=9mvXPwPq2_w5orsHdaNlnw">we're being offered is reheated</a>, <a href="http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=5&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=0CDcQFjAE&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.telegraph.co.uk%2Fnews%2Fpolitics%2Flabour%2F11611709%2FBonfire-of-the-policies-as-Labour-challengers-queue-up-to-ditch-Ed-Milibands-legacy.html&amp;ei=LL9kVZ-oMIynsAHWq4DAAQ&amp;usg=AFQjCNGcC9dJh8ihLzFGOP9dtwj8RJnjeg&amp;sig2=ERZ_Eky_98fSlZItdRIJtw">regurgitated, reconstituted processed</a> <a href="http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=4&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=0CDkQqQIwAw&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.theguardian.com%2Fpolitics%2F2015%2Fmay%2F23%2Fyvette-cooper-labour-leadership-general-election&amp;ei=ecBkVfujLMeksgHG14LoBQ&amp;usg=AFQjCNGjrnjdycfKO0h1wDVafRMTvyiFxA&amp;sig2=JyddtMlJY1rRUFB1cJnzqQ">mechanical bullshit</a> of the most shameful quality from meatheads who have learned nothing and forgotten nothing.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/may/15/labour-history-leadership">John Harris said it best</a>: most of the Labour elite simply don't have the wit or humility to involve themselves in the debates that are necessary at the margins, that are outside of the comfort zone of consoling themselves with it's all down to how the party wasn't on the side of hard-working people and hard-working families and hard-working wealth creators and hard-working businesses.<br /><br />It wasn't just despair over the election result and other things that led me to take a two-week break, and I apologise sincerely if anyone was truly worried for my wellbeing.&nbsp; I was for a while too, but the worst has passed, thankfully.&nbsp; It was despair over where I, we go from here: I've never been a Labour party member and I very much doubt I ever will be.&nbsp; And yet Ed Miliband's Labour had convinced me we were getting somewhere; yes, it was barely anywhere, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/may/26/queens-speech-miliband">but for once Polly Toynbee has it right</a> in how different a Labour Queen's speech tomorrow would have been to the Tory one we'll get.&nbsp; Labour at this moment in time looks finished, and Labour in the UK is the only leftish party that has ever won, may ever win power.&nbsp; How do we begin to build a movement that can replace it, that can have that wide-ranging appeal, that can offer the despondent hope and the hopeful a better alternative?&nbsp; How can I change anything when I can't even change myself?<br /><br />I see the parts but not the whole / I study saints and scholars both / No perfect plan unfurls</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com5tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-19549581598026358982015-05-11T21:00:00.002+01:002015-05-13T13:14:02.846+01:00I'm not working.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">I hurt myself yesterday / To see if I still feel<br /><br /><a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/07/everyone-ive-loved-or-hated-always.html">I've written before about self-harm</a>.&nbsp; It's not cool, kids.&nbsp; Do as I say, not as I do.&nbsp; I didn't expect yesterday to be lying in a field, listening to a bird singing barely 10 feet away, giggling away to myself.&nbsp; I didn't expect that my brain would react to the absurdity of a 30-year-old man scratching at himself with a blade in such an incongruous setting by being precisely that, triggering a laughing fit that didn't stop for 10 minutes.&nbsp; I thought I remembered that hurting myself before hadn't done anything except leave scars.&nbsp; Perhaps it didn't then.&nbsp; All I can relate is that for a good few hours yesterday I felt euphoric.&nbsp; I couldn't wipe the smile off my face as I walked home.&nbsp; Grinning, laughing.&nbsp; Then once I was home it quickly wore off.&nbsp; The pain remained, still does somewhat.&nbsp; It pulses, burns slightly, like your skin does when the heat of the sun on it becomes too much.<br /><br />Doctors will tell you there are a number of tell-tale signs to depression.&nbsp; Loss of appetite, or rather you all but stop eating.&nbsp; Loss of enjoyment of everything, or rather you return to what you know best, to comfort yourself.&nbsp; You listen to that music, you watch that TV show or those movies, you listen to that man rant about those things.&nbsp; Inability to sleep, which thankfully doesn't concern me as I've been on medication that helps me with that for umpteen years.&nbsp; Alternatively, and this does apply to me, sleeping more.&nbsp; Where before you were getting by on 6 hours you can now go for double that.&nbsp; I speak in a monotone.&nbsp; I stop finding attractive people attractive.&nbsp; I shake.<br /><br />Petrified for the millionth time / Slowly my soul evaporates / No parachutes no dismal clouds / Just this fucking space<br /><br />You don't expect these things.&nbsp; You do expect other things, but you do it anyway, because you've got no self-control, or you use that as an excuse.&nbsp; Let's put it at best, that you're an annoyance, rather than something more visceral, that you disappoint rather than bring someone else down with you because you're such a fucking imbecile.&nbsp; You beat yourself up about it, but that's not the real reason you turn against yourself, is it?&nbsp; You can't leave well alone because you don't know anything else, isn't that it?&nbsp; Can't you admit that you do this because you want to, that it's no one else's fault, despite you saying over and over again you're the only one to blame, do you really mean it?&nbsp; Because it sure as hell doesn't seem like it.&nbsp; Haven't you just proved you're a masochist, and that at root that has something to do with it?&nbsp; You like the pain.&nbsp; You might not want it, but when it comes as it always will you secretly enjoy it.&nbsp; You tell yourself you can't change, and when you demonstrate just that, or think you have, it just reinforces your spectacularly immature world view.&nbsp; There is only one solution, and you're still far too cowardly to let it envelope you totally.<br /><br /><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/may/10/what-bright-side-theres-no-silver-lining-to-this-election-result">It's worse than you think</a>.&nbsp; Yeah, thanks Guardian, tell me something I don't already know.&nbsp; You see <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/may/10/miliband-made-terrible-mistake-in-ditching-new-labour-says-mandelson">all the old barely human faces</a>, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/may/09/tony-blair-what-labour-must-do-next-election-ed-miliband">the skin not as thick as it once was</a>, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/may/09/alan-johnson-labour-aspirational-voters-tony-blair">stretched tauter over bone</a>.&nbsp; What this proves is I was right all along.&nbsp; These people can't even wait until the corpse is cold, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/may/11/david-miliband-criticises-brother-ed-labour-blairite">their glee total at what has transpired</a>.&nbsp; Had it been the opposite they would have been nowhere to be seen, muttering to themselves about how it couldn't, wouldn't last.&nbsp; Aspiration.&nbsp; The centre ground.&nbsp; Working hard and getting on.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/may/11/labour-election-defeat-britain-tristram-hunt">Wealth creation and cultural affirmation</a>.&nbsp; Those words coming just after the writer tells us that politics has to be emotional rather than public policy seminar or data collection exercise.&nbsp; This, friends, is what awaits us in the next Labour leader.&nbsp; It doesn't matter that no one <a href="http://www.politics.co.uk/blogs/2015/05/09/blairism-offers-no-hope-for-labour">has come up with a prescription so far</a> on how you can win back voters in Scotland that went to the "left" while convincing those in England that went to the right that you aren't going to launch a pogrom on white van men, clearly where Labour went wrong was in not remaining on the centre ground.&nbsp; Like the Lib Dems, who clung to the centre because Nick Clegg decreed it and were duly squashed flat.&nbsp; Labour was just slightly to their left, and apparently that was enough to seal their fate.&nbsp; Pull the other fucking one.<br /><br />This is not evidence Britain is a "fundamentally conservative country", <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/may/10/tories-mistake-meaning-victory-not-more-conservative-welfare-cameron">says Matthew d'Anconservative</a>, as if it were neither the NHS or BBC would exist.&nbsp; No, Britain in the era when both were created was not a fundamentally conservative country.&nbsp; It was a fundamentally social democratic country.&nbsp; Then it stopped being such and the only reason we retain both is because they remind us of what we once were, that and no one has come up with a better alternative.&nbsp; You can't replace an entire health system.&nbsp; You can get rid of the BBC though, and don't be surprised <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/may/11/john-whittingdale-culture-secretary-bbc-charter-renewal">if that process begins under this glorious government</a>.&nbsp; The Tories would be quite wrong to interpret the election result as a green light to cut welfare, Matt goes on.&nbsp; Why not?&nbsp; Rather than deploring the politics of heartlessness, a good percentage of the public seem to have embraced it.&nbsp; They've displayed a very funny way of saying they disagree with the bedroom tax, for instance.&nbsp; <a href="http://flyingrodent.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/why-x-means-that-we-should-support-my.html">As the inestimable Flying Rodent has repeatedly said</a>, no one makes people watch Benefits Street or all these other gawping documentaries on the poors.&nbsp; See, that's where Labour went wrong: too much emphasis on the poors and the riches, not enough on the middle.&nbsp; Because Labour didn't spend years going on interminably about the squeezed fucking middle, did it?<br /><br />Half of me wants to scream that Labour needs to have the shortest leadership contest possible, regardless of whom comes out at the end of it, because it was during the navel gazing of the contest last time that the Tories banged on endlessly about the crash being all Labour's fault.&nbsp; With neither a Labour or Lib Dem leader in place, although hey, thank heavens for small mercies that Nigel Farage has been preserved for the nation, we can expect the same again.&nbsp; The other half of me though just doesn't give a shit.&nbsp; This result has pretty much proved there's only one thing that does for the Tories, and that's a disaster like Black Wednesday followed by the party obsessing over itself.&nbsp; Even then Labour can only win by going one foot to the left of the Conservatives, and as the more perceptive have pointed out, it wasn't Ed Miliband that screwed Labour in Scotland, it was a certain Mr Blair.&nbsp; It was a very delayed reaction, but reaction it was all the same.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/may/10/labour-leadership-candidates-chances">Hunt, Kendall, Umunna, Burnham, Cooper</a>, whoever wins they look set to accept in full the prevailing message already dictated.&nbsp; None of them look quite as weird as Miliband did, although Burnham has some especially sensual eyelashes, but you think they're going to be fellated like Blair was by all comers?&nbsp; There's no one, and they have nothing to say.<br /><br />All that's left, all I have left is to point and criticise.&nbsp; I'd like to think I'm reasonable at doing that, I'm dedicated at least if nothing else.&nbsp; I'm also always unexpected.&nbsp; Dedicated and unexpected.&nbsp; What a fantastic epitaph.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com8tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-41036882717877747542015-05-09T21:44:00.003+01:002015-05-09T22:11:05.674+01:00.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">Ever have one of those days where, regardless of anything else that was happening, you should have done everything differently?<br /><br />Yesterday was one of those days.&nbsp; And to be truthful, I don't just mean yesterday.&nbsp; I mean every single day of my life since I was oh, 13, just to put a figure on it.&nbsp; 17 years later and I still haven't learned a thing.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-17114504169077284282015-05-08T19:57:00.000+01:002015-05-09T11:19:53.762+01:00Acedia's blackest hole.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">Where do we even begin?<br /><br />Perhaps it's best to start <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2015/05/we-still-need-labour-government.html">with what I and so many</a> <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2015/05/a-campaign-of-failure.html">others got spectacularly wrong</a>.&nbsp; First, the Lynton Crosby "crossover" happened.&nbsp; It happened at the very last minute, but it happened.&nbsp; Second, the mainstream, overwhelmingly right-wing media has far more influence than anyone on the left or on the internet as a whole has given it credit for in years.&nbsp; Their screeching appeals to their readers not to vote Labour over the past couple of days are almost certainly not the reason the Conservatives have a slender majority, but the months, years of attacks on Labour and their depiction of Ed Miliband as a mixture of Stalin and Mr Bean, to borrow from Vince Cable, have exacted a heavy toll.&nbsp; If you want a reason why UKIP won just shy of 4 million votes, almost as many as the SNP and the Lib Dems combined, you need only look as far as a media that depicts Britain as a country where the power lies not with the white, upper middle classes but with immigrants, benefit claimants, the EU, and a constantly being bent over and sodomised BBC.&nbsp; The real metropolitan elite has succeeded in creating an image of a phony metropolitan elite, where politically correct limp-wristed Guardianistas allow children to be raped and everything that's wrong with the country is down to their smug, sneering attitude of knowing best.&nbsp; You can't support England!&nbsp; You can't talk about immigration!&nbsp; You can't say anything anymore without someone jumping down your throat!<br /><br />Where I would maintain I wasn't wrong is in that no one won this election.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/ng-interactive/2015/may/07/live-uk-election-results-in-full">Now, plainly, the Conservatives did</a>.&nbsp; They didn't however win on the basis of anything <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2015/04/the-conservative-manifesto.html">in the Conservative manifesto</a> or almost anything that David Cameron said the whole campaign.&nbsp; The Tories have increased their share of the vote yes, something not achieved since 1900, but the swing is a miniscule 0.5%.&nbsp; The Conservatives won because at the last minute more decided to stick with what they know than risk a Labour minority "held to ransom" by the SNP.&nbsp; Apart from a few exceptional results, like the defenestration of Ed Balls, the Tories have their majority thanks to winning the seats they needed to from their former coalition partner.&nbsp; Nick Clegg's message of dead centrism, which even to me looked as if it might in the end pay dividends failed catastrophically.&nbsp; Why have a Lib Dem MP supporting Tory policies when you can have the real thing?<br /><br />The Labour result is though throat-slittingly, jumping into a gaping chasm, blowing your own head off with a howitzer bad.&nbsp; It represents everything the party must have feared in its darkest moments combined with the very worst of its most gleeful enemies' fantasies.&nbsp; To gain an overall swing of just 1.5% after 5 years of austerity, real terms losses in earnings and hacking away at the public services as only a Tory led government can is not just nightmarish, it suggests Labour as a party is in terminal decline.&nbsp; As we've seen on the continent, it isn't the centre-right parties that have been most squeezed post-crash, it's been those on the centre-left.&nbsp; Unlike in Spain and Greece where parties of the radical left have been the beneficiaries of the collapse, we're seeing a refracted image of the situation in France, where the Front National looks set to become the unofficial opposition.&nbsp; Clearly UKIP aren't going to play that role here, but what has happened is that as all the main parties have moved to the right on immigration and the economy, it's the establishment parties of the left that suffer most.&nbsp; As the Greens will never be a working class alternative to Labour for a whole myriad of reasons, the major shift has been to UKIP, but there has been a much smaller if still significant shift to the left also.<br /><br />How is Labour meant to win those voters back?&nbsp; The more hawkish it is on the deficit and the harsher on immigration the more it loses voters like me to the alternatives on the left.&nbsp; Meanwhile those on the right aren't satisfied as Labour won't go further than merely copying Tory policies.&nbsp; It's utterly stuck, and has next to no room to manoeuvre.<br /><br />For the left to win, it seems the only hope is to have a charismatic leader.&nbsp; They can be an utter bastard, like a certain Mr Blair, or they can be a sign of change rather than stand for anything, like a certain Mr Obama.&nbsp; If you look slightly nerdy, decide that you'd rather than country was just a little bit more equal please sir, and that it's not the best idea in the world <a href="http://septicisle1.blogspot.com/2013/08/what-syria-vote-does-and-doesnt-signify.html">to chuck bombs at countries without thinking</a> it through first, or to spend the whole of your life brown nosing <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/may/06/warning-todays-front-pages-could-seriously-damage-your-health">some of the most despicable cunts on the face of the planet</a>, then boy are you fucked.<br /><br />Ed Miliband's gambit was that the country had on a few really quite slight measures shifted all but imperceptibly to the left.&nbsp; In their heart of hearts, perhaps most people do feel that way: they do want a higher minimum wage if not a living one, they do want a job that provides a way out of poverty, which is secure, they do want the corporate behemoths that now run so much of our public services to be just that, rather than service only their shareholders.&nbsp; When it came down to it though, they held onto nurse in case of something worse, the worse being an inconclusive result where a nationalist party set on breaking the country up would hold the balance of power.&nbsp; Yes, the failure to correct or challenge the media/Tory narrative that <a href="http://leftfootforward.org/2015/05/comment-labour-didnt-lose-the-election-because-of-scotland/">Labour was responsible for the crash</a> did have an impact, but then on so many other fronts Labour and indeed all the parties have failed to do the same.&nbsp; For far too long the main three have been too scared to confront voters' prejudices and instead have given in to them.&nbsp; You celebrate the way the country has become diverse and yet you tell us you want an end to immigration right now; you tell us you hate scroungers and yet the welfare bill is increasing because benefits are topping up low wages and subsidising landlords, not to pay for layabouts; you complain about the wait to see a doctor and the threat to the NHS, and yet you're not prepared to pay the taxes to fund it to the same level as health services elsewhere.<br /><br />Who Labour should choose to replace Miliband seems almost moot.&nbsp; It clearly can't be someone else from the Blair/Brown era, which rules out Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham at a stroke.&nbsp; Chuka Umuuna would, should be a frontrunner but while he has steel he lacks said charisma and passion.&nbsp; I'd like to think it's time the party chose a woman, <a href="http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=3&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=0CCcQqQIwAg&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bbc.co.uk%2Fnews%2Fuk-politics-32654262&amp;ei=GwZNVaOsHMH8UI3bgNgI&amp;usg=AFQjCNFHVUrh3WUgU5ayXw1tY1Jpj25zzg&amp;sig2=vjvXvRr-tLIzrAeFrd80mA">and on that front Liz Kendall</a> would probably be the best bet, only yet again there's no reason whatsoever to believe she would make the needed difference when there is so little scope for policy change without losing more voters to UKIP or the Greens.&nbsp; If there is the tiniest, most minute squib of brightness, it's that nothing can possibly get worse for the party in Scotland.&nbsp; It needs to be rebuilt from the ground up, but it can't get any worse.&nbsp; Whether Scotland will still be part of the UK by the time it's ready to challenge again could be the real question.<br /><br />Finally then we must turn to our new overlords.&nbsp; The Conservatives have won a majority, regardless of how, on the back of the most right-wing manifesto since the days of Thatcher.&nbsp; They promise to rip up the Human Rights Act, if only to replace it with a British Bill of Rights codifying the same things, to slash social security to the absolute bone in ways they refused to let us in on, to further ramp up the housing market, to all but abolish inheritance tax, and to run a surplus from which tax cuts in time for the next election will be handed out.&nbsp; Let's surmise that in fact it won't be that bad: Osborne will now look at the books, realise that cutting as much as <a href="https://flipchartfairytales.wordpress.com/2015/05/01/the-tories-and-welfare-machiavellian-or-just-muddling-through/">they say they will is complete lunacy</a>, and that a further delay to reducing the deficit is sensible.&nbsp; We still though will be facing cuts that look unachievable, if that is the party doesn't now renege on its promise to not raise VAT, to posit just one thing it could do instead.<br /><br />As promised by Cameron, the starting gun on the EU referendum has sounded.&nbsp; Let's assume the best: that Cameron gets something from Angela Merkel and the rest that allows him to claim he has successfully renegotiated our membership.&nbsp; Regardless of that, his backbenchers, looking over their shoulders at UKIP once again will be campaigning for the exit.&nbsp; The poll will not be about the benefits of the EU so much as what are seen as the negatives: the open borders, the loss of power, the amount we pay for barmy EU bureaucrats, and so forth.&nbsp; Even if the vote is a yes to stay in, the Scottish referendum has proved that once you've asked the question you will sooner or later have to ask it again, as it's guaranteed the result will be as close as the 55%-45% share north of the border.<br /><br />Then we have the issue of Cameron himself.&nbsp; We know he's not going to serve a third term, so the party leadership battle begins here.&nbsp; At the same time as the EU referendum we're going to have Osborne, May and Boris battling it out, with all that implies for infighting in the party in and around the referendum.&nbsp; When you've won a majority on the back of being right-wing shitbags and those whose support you're trying to get are right-wing shitbags, why on earth would you then head back to the centre?<br /><br />I could go on but that's probably enough and I'm sleep deprived as it is.&nbsp; To be slightly optimistic again, the Tories are still going to have trouble governing: their majority is smaller than it was in 1992, their backbenchers will be just as fractious as in the last parliament, and by-elections will dwindle it further.<br /><br />Let's not lie to ourselves, all the same.&nbsp; Today's result is a disaster for those at the margins of society.&nbsp; It's a disaster for those who believe in internationalism, rather than nationalism.&nbsp; And it's the evidence we should have seen before that the left in England is fucked, probably irrevocably.<br /><br />Have a good weekend.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com1