Saturday, February 13, 2010 

Extracting rafters.

Reminded of how much I adore Marina Hyde by this wonderful paragraph out of a generally superb column:

The micro-managing parallels with New Labour are so striking that we must assume Cameron genuinely intends to reprise the shtick which made Blair's lot so uniquely loathsome to the public. It is history lacking the decency to repeat itself as farce. It is merely history ­repeating itself.

Equally reminded of how much I abhor Amanda Platell by her attack on supposed prospective WAGs, one of those loathsome modern abbreviations. She might have something approaching a point, but it's buried beneath venomous, visceral loathing for young, naive women, and intertwined with what it's difficult to describe as anything other than the green-eyed monster:

These long-legged fillies excitedly clatter down the stairs from pavement level, their hooves shod mostly in cheap stilettos so high they make them look ridiculously tall, slightly deformed, like creatures from Avatar.

And they all have the Victoria Beckham stoop that comes with such ridiculous shoes.

The girls' legs go on for ever; as do their dreams of pulling a footballer or a millionaire.

They sway suggestively to the blaring music, drinks clutched in by acrylic-tipped fingers, waving their bottoms at passing boys, thrusting their pert breasts, stroking their bare thighs, licking their lips, tossing their hair extensions.

I am witnessing the mating ritual of the Wannabe WAG. It's a sight worthy of a David Attenborough documentary. Think of a herd of frisky wildebeest stampeding through the Serengeti plain, stopping only to drink and procreate.

The skirts are so short they leave nothing to the imagination. I swear there is only one pair of undies in that club - and I am wearing them.

I know I'm one to talk, but the writing in places is also frankly abysmal:

They behave not so much like Stepford wives, as Stepford tarts, unabashed that they are using sex to procure designer clothes, utterly complicit in the cattle market that unfolds before me wherever I go.

It goes without saying that calling them Stepford tarts doesn't even make any sense, it's just the snatching of a lazy cultural allusion: as Platell elaborates elsewhere, these young women are not submissive and docile as the Stepford wives were, they know what they want and how to get it. They're using the men they're trying to attract just as much as the men are using them.

Any wider significance of what goes on in a tiny number of exclusive London clubs is completely buried under a layer of invective that says as much about Platell as it does about the women she followed for one night. It's also the usual hysterical Daily Mail hypocrisy: as
Hagley Road to Ladywood notes, it's the likes of the Mail that help to perpetuate the false notion that there's something glamorous about hanging onto the arm of a footballer or dumb rich boy by their constant and consistent coverage of them, which is far from always being sneering or hectoring in tone. Someone once said that you should extract the rafter from your own eye before attempting to to extract the straw from someone else's eye, advice that our glorious modern media will never even begin to take.

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Saturday, January 30, 2010 

Modern media values.

Not going to bother with a weekend links post this time round; not much on the blogs to link to, the papers aren't much better, and I'm sure you get tired of me linking to the same shit every Saturday anyway.

I do think though that nothing quite sums up the modern media's values as much as today's front pages. On all the tabloids, and even the Telegraph, footballer shags other footballer's ex-girlfriend. The others, oh, some bloke called Tony Blair was before some panel preaching.

Naturally, it's an important victory for freedom, according to the Sun: you have the right to know when a man with all the charm of a house brick turns out to, well, have all the charm of a house brick. What a breathtaking revelation. To quote the paper:

But if, as a married man, he is behaving in a manner many might find unacceptable with his position, the public has the right to know.

Didn't the public then have a right to know that ex-Sun editor Rebekah Wade's relationship with her then husband Ross Kemp was either breaking or had broken down? Well no, because then News International executive Les Hinton phoned round all the papers begging them not to mention it, which they duly abided by. The only freedom which the tabloid press recognise is the freedom to make money, regardless of the facts and regardless of the morals which some attempt to shove down the throats of their readers.

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Saturday, January 23, 2010 

Weekend links.

Yeah, still no return to a proper post yet. Hopefully I'll have stopped my snivelling by Monday. In the meantime...

Lenin suggests that the Obama dream might have died already, Craig comments on Jack Straw's performance before the Chilcot inquiry, Paul Linford wonders if the "causes of crime" have come back to haunt Labour, Jamie takes Cameron's argument over the Edlington attack to its logical conclusion, Dave Semple examines Harriet Harman's speech to Compass on the supposed "Good Society", Neil Robertson quite rightly tears Zac Goldsmith a new one, the Heresiarch turns the hyperbole on slightly in coming soon: a rigged election while lastly Claude asks if "evil" can always be explained.

In the papers, Matthew Parris, having first told David Cameron to go to town on Gordon Brown, now thinks that he should put away the custard pies, probably because Brown has got the better of Cameron the past three weeks for the first time in ages, Janice Turner writes about the somewhat ignored, tragic case of Frances Inglis, sentenced to nine years for ending the suffering of her disabled son, whom the Graun also has an interview from prison with, Andrew Grice and Peter Oborne both comment on Brown and the Chilcot inquiry, with a difference of opinion over how dangerous it is for him (I side with Grice in that I don't think any revelation about Brown's role or not in going to war with Iraq is going to affect votes now), Howard Jacobson has a rather snobbish piece which features both Sunny Hundal and Anton Vowl, the latter quoted out of context repeatedly, while lastly Marina Hyde punctures those who concentrate on political gaffes in her customary style.

No worst tabloid article this week again, despite my worrying about the venom likely to be unleashed after the sentencing of the brothers convicted of the attack in Edlington. Closest is probably the Sun leader, which agrees with David Cameron that "Britain has become an "irresponsible society" with too much greed and selfishness". I can't even begin to imagine which publications and individuals could possibly have promoted such warped and twisted values.

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Saturday, January 16, 2010 

Weekend links.

Straight in as before. Paul Linford reckons the Iraq war inquiry is bad news more for Brown than it is for Blair, while Brown himself has been scraping the barrel with his piss-poor aspirations for the middle class, as noted by Chris Dillow, Dave Semple wants Melanie Phillips to meet Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, Dave Osler is clear that "new racism" can only be countered by a new class politics while lastly both Anton Vowl and Angry Mob tackle tabloid coverage of Terence Gavan.

In the papers, Matthew Parris suggests that to really tackle Blair over he needs to be hounded, Patrick Cockburn wonders whether the US is failing Haiti again, Andrew Grice thinks Gordon Brown has to stick to his promise and use the "c" word (not that one), Marina Hyde attacks the killjoy nature of Thames Valley police after officers were warned about their conduct after they went sledging with a riot shield while on duty, and finally David Nutt puts forward his case for his new drugs panel.

As for worst tabloid article of the weekend, we have a choice between the arslikhan of Peter Oborne over the Tories' plans which are far more radical than Maggie's, or the even more dire Howard Jacobson, who's a fine writer when he isn't either knocking on about terrorism or civil liberties. I think we'll go with the latter.

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Saturday, January 09, 2010 

Weekend links.

Back to the usual after last week's attempt at something slightly different. Paul Linford explains why he wants a hung parliament, Mike Power has a somewhat controversial view on the continuing Iris Robinson saga, Dave Semple has an excellent piece on the politics of war guilt, Dave Osler is already looking forward to Labour's years in the wilderness, Tom Freeman thinks the economy might have frozen as well, John B invokes JS Mill to oppose the neo-puritans, which I'll also drink to and lastly Splintered Sunrise has all you need to know and more on the Robinsons.

In the papers, Matthew Parris says the plotters just wanted to hurt Brown rather than bring him down, something I'm not entirely convinced by, Andrew Grice suggests power has swung further in Peter Mandelson's favour, Peter Oborne still thinks that the "assassins" might yet get their man, John Kampfner reckons David Miliband is now also a serial bottler while Pollyanna Toynbee bizarrely still thinks Labour has some ideas up its sleeve. On other subjects Janice Turner is sorry to see Jonathan Ross go as Marina Hyde also thinks his departure means the likes of the Mail has won, Ben Goldacre has a superb piece on how the figures on public vs private pay don't add up while lastly Howard Jacobson ponders on whether life and love are more important than human rights.

No worst tabloid piece this week as there doesn't seem to be anything beyond redemption (feel free to drop any suggestions you have in the comments), so that's your lot.

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Saturday, January 02, 2010 

An alternative to the usual weekend links. Sort of.

The tradition is that on a Saturday I generally do a weekend links post. Frankly, there's so little worth linking to today, with probably this and this as honourable exceptions, that there isn't much point.

The other intention I had was that as part of the usual end of year, or in this case end of decade baloney, I was going to name the person of the decade as Katie Price, aka Jordan, for reasons you can probably guess. Then I noticed that Joan Collins in the Daily Mail did almost precisely that, calling her the non-entity of the decade. That is ever so slightly rich on two levels: Joan Collins is only notable these days for marrying numerous times, and secondly that she made her point in a newspaper which currently has the latest antics of said Katie Price as its top story on the Femail pages. If the very newspapers that perpetuate the likes of Katie Price suddenly stopped giving them attention, they'd soon fall from view. True, by the same yardstick an insignificant little nothing like me can be accused of hypocrisy for calling someone else the epitome of almost everything that was wrong with the last decade in cultural terms when I've hardly contributed to the wealth of the nation, but I like to think I don't contribute the same level of poison into the national spirit as the Daily Mail does every day.

I've spent some of the last week or so watching a load of old Have I Got News For Yous on YouTube, and it is instructive just how quickly we forget. Peter Oborne in the Mail today for example, and he's usually quite good, bemoans the "moral decline". I was only 13 in 1997 and even I can remember back then the usual suspects saying exactly the same thing, just as I remember the "Back to Basics" desperation which Major had come out with a couple of years previous. This naturally drove the gutter press on to expose as many adulterous MPs as they could, and there sure were a lot; we also now know that the prime minister himself, even if his affair with Edwina Currie had finished some time previously, had given in to the temptations of the flesh. Oborne goes on to complain:

For Cameron it is more complex. New Labour brilliantly used the capture of political power in 1997 to establish the dominance of the liberal Left across vast swathes of public life.

It now has key placemen and women in the civil service, the voluntary sector, the legal profession, the arts world, the intelligence services, the BBC and the quango state which has passed outside democratic control and yet controls so much of our public life.

These quangos are run, almost without exception, by New Labour placemen.

And were things any different back under Major? No, the quangos then, even if there were fewer, were also almost uniquely ran by Tory placemen, often the wives of Tory MPs. Will Cameron actually cut them as he promises, or will he just install his own placemen? You can bet it's more likely to be the latter. Already we've seen Boris Johnson trying to put in place Veronica Wadley, ex-editor of the Evening Standard and whom cheered him to his ascension as London mayor as chair of the London Arts Council.

As usual though, Oborne is nothing as compared to Amanda Platell, who's finally decided after years of criticising immigration to actually become a British citizen herself (complete with low-cut Union Jack dress, something she has previously criticised others for wearing). Her vision of British society and how as a selfless gesture she's becoming a citizen mainly so she can save the nation from itself is so different from mine that it's clear that we may as well live in completely separate countries. This is her summary of the best of what we have to offer:

The only areas where Britain excels - indeed, we're top in Europe - are drunkenness, drug addiction and teenage pregnancy.

Yet the nation which the Mail and the others are always encouraging us to look towards - America - is about the only other place that has a worse record on certainly the latter and more than likely on the other two as well. And she complains:

Today, too often, crude vulgarity prevails on our TV screens and on the street.

Nothing, naturally about when "crude vulgarity" appears in our national newspapers. Such as when a certain Amanda Platell blamed "equality" when a young woman tragically fell into a river while on a skiing holiday and died, for which the Mail eventually had to print a "clarification" letter from one of her friends about. And could this Amanda Platell that is always banging on about how essential marriage is possibly be the one that admits in the opening of today's piece that her husband departed long ago? No, of course not.

I don't have a rose-tinted view of the country as it stands. Certainly, things could be a whole lot better; we have after all probably just came through possibly one of the worst decades, if not in living standards but in general unpleasantness and misery for quite some considerable time. To read the Mail and some other people though you'd think that the country was about to completely fall apart, or already had, that society had also broken down entirely and that the only good, decent people left, the middle class naturally, are too scared and threatened by what's going on around them that they daren't leave their houses. The police are politically correct loonies, except of course when they're shooting dead Brazilians who look like Asians and beating the shit out of peaceful protesters; the entire country, despite being ruled by decidedly conservative with both small-c and capital C individuals for the last 30 years is a liberalocracy where you can't say anything for fear of being branded either a racist or a homophobe or a bigot or a sexist, and to cap it all, the economy's gone up the spout, even though the obvious thing to happen after the longest boom in at least a hundred years was a lengthy bust. We can rejoice though: here comes Cameron's Conservatives, ready to mend our fractured land, as demonstrated by him mouthing cliché after cliché in an especially fatuous Sun article.

Here then is my highly controversial prediction for what the next decade holds: much, much more of the same old shit. Regardless of who wins the next election, by the time it's their turn to be ousted from power, everyone regardless of political affiliation, including Oborne and Platell will be saying exactly the same things about how rotten the country is. And yet again, they'll be wrong.

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Saturday, December 19, 2009 

Weekend links.

Straight into it this week. Paul Linford says Blair's candour is rather late, 5cc compares Richard Littlejohn to a Viz character, Dave Osler reflects on the murders of Katie Summers and Tulay Goren, Shiraz Socialist speaks to a Unite activist over the BA strike debacle, Anton Vowl has the year of the Twatter, sorry Twitter storm, the Heresiarch considers and contrasts the crimes of Munir Hussain and Memhet Goren, Next Left sees Philip Davies as a parliamentary troll, Don Paskini wonders about populist policies and Ben Goldacre has the year in nonsense.

In the papers or at least their sites, relatively slim pickings. Matthew Parris says politicians have done nothing for the average African, Marina Hyde sees Simon Cowell making Jedwards of us all, Peter Oborne ponders why Cameron isn't doing better in the polls, Andrew Grice wonders if Labour is working after all, and Howard Jacobson thinks we devalue relationships by saying "I love you".

As for worst tabloid article of the weekend, the award must go to the Sun, which has a "woe is me" interview with Munir Hussain and an editorial saying he should be released. You somehow doubt it would in any other circumstances ever believe that a prison sentence is not the right punishment for beating someone so badly they received brain damage.

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Saturday, December 12, 2009 

Weekend links.

You have to say, it's nice of Tony Blair to admit that he's a war criminal. Strange choice though to confess to Fern Britton, although she's probably less likely than someone else to get straight on the blower to the Hague. Madam Mioaw has more. Elsewhere my post from Thursday has been mirrored over on Lib Con, Lenin has a post from a Pakistani socialist on the continuing crisis there, both Craig and the Heresiarch have the latest on Justice Eady and his continuing desire to ensure that that we remain the libel capital of the world, Anton Vowl has some positive immigration stories, Paul Linford writes his weekly column on the pre-budget report, 5cc sees how the Mail reacts when one its pet myths is debunked, while lastly Dave Osler isn't impressed by the piss-poor class war.

In the papers, or at least their sites, the Graun has an interview with the outgoing prisons inspector, Anne Owers, Paul Lewis had a tête-à-tête with the filth for photographing the Gherkin, John Gray reflects on the decade past and the end of various dreams, Peter Oborne thinks Mandelson and Brown are at war again, Matthew Parris talks far too much sense in calling for a end to the fetishising of "Our Boys", Andrew Grice detects continuing jitters in the Cameron camp, Howard Jacobson doesn't believe in the joy of giving, Christina Patterson celebrates the kindness of strangers and Polly T advises against Cameron copycatting.

As for the worst tabloid article, we either have Amanda Platell continuing with yet another myth, that of the sponging teenage mother, or this simply classic Sun editorial wondering whether Simon Cowell can work his magic on the electoral process:

Is there a role for X Factor mastermind Simon Cowell here?

He inspires young people. He makes things interesting. He is a straight talker with a populist touch.

Unless he sets up his own party, for which the winners of his competition would stand, I don't think there's much chance of it happening.

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Saturday, December 05, 2009 

Weekend links.

A lot of utter nonsense has been written on climate change science the emergence of those leaked emails. John B, Flying Rodent and paulinlancs attempt to somewhat redress the sceptic balance, while Sunder Katwala attempts to answer his own question over whom the shadow cabinet climate sceptics are. On other matters, Craig Murray wonders what we do if we didn't have those completely essential bankers, Paul Linford thinks Gordon Brown still might be vindicated over not calling a snap election back in 07, 5cc finds we're still not banning Christmas, or cracker jokes, Chris Dillow says Brown is fighting the wrong kind of class war, BenSix reflects on the case of Ibrahim Jassam, Angry Mob goes into the kind of detail rebutting Richard Littlejohn that is highly admirable, and lastly Third Estate reports on the latest ridiculous imposition of an ASBO.

Far too much has been written already about Gordon Brown joking about tax policy being dreamed up on the fields of Eton, but not too much for the usually decent Matthew Parris not to comment on. Janice Turner attempts to redress the balance somewhat with a piece on how the rich are different, Amy Jenkins thinks that bankers have a death wish while Andy Trotter of ACPO doesn't make a very convincing case for why photographers are increasingly being harassed under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000. Slim pickings from the papers, unless of course you want to read how Amanda Knox really is an evil she-devil and how there definitely hasn't been a miscarriage of justice, honest.

As for worst tabloid article of the weekend, we'll stretch the rules once again slightly to include the Spectator's website, and the increasingly openly racist Rod Liddle (ht PP):

The first of an occasional series – those benefits of a multi-cultural Britain in full. Let me introduce you all to this human filth.

It could be an anomaly, of course. But it isn’t. The overwhelming majority of street crime, knife crime, gun crime, robbery and crimes of sexual violence in London is carried out by young men from the African-Caribbean community. Of course, in return, we have rap music, goat curry and a far more vibrant and diverse understanding of cultures which were once alien to us. For which, many thanks.


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Saturday, November 28, 2009 

Weekend links.

Straight into it this week. Paul Linford and Craig Murray have thoughts on the Iraq inquiry, Pickled Politics has the news that yet another "former member" of the BNP has been charged with terrorist offences, Nosemonkey and Sunder Katwala have the lowdown on Lord Pearson, the new leader of UKIP, Chris Dillow moderates a debate on whether higher taxes on the rich raise more revenue, Dave Osler and Shiraz Socialist monitor the funding of schools with links to Hizb ut Tahrir, both of which note that under the Tory education plans more such developments are likely, Paulie calls for the restrictions on industrial action to be ended, Anton Vowl sort of answers whether blogging is journalism or vice versa, the Heresiarch considers the Gary McKinnon case and Tabloid Watch takes note of the great silence on various matters.

In the papers, or at least their sites, Janice Turner compares and contrasts Jordan (i.e. Katie Price, not the country) and Dubai, while Matthew Parris says Blair saw going to war with Iraq as a "no-brainer", with Mary Dejevesky calling for the former prime minister to be brought to the witness stand as soon as possible. General Sir Michael Rose says Blair should stand trial, Peter Oborne asks who else in the cabinet at the time should be held to account and Chris Ames wonders just who decides if a war is legal. Away from the Chilcot inquiry, Pollyanna Toynbee argues good politicians try to change public opinion, while Marina Hyde won't be mourning GMTV.

As for worst tabloid article, the easy winner this week is the Sun deciding that the Ministry of Justice using "young person" instead of "youths" is political correctness. The same newspaper which in the opening sentence describes those guilty of a criminal offence for which they've been cautioned for as "yobs", which certainly isn't reverse political correctness. The editorial though deserves some kind of reward for managing to bring in a reference to 1984 and "newspeak": somehow I get the feeling that if Murdoch decried it, Oceania would have always been at war with Eastasia and not Eurasia.

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Saturday, November 21, 2009 

Weekend links.

Not a lot around this weekend, so I'll keep this relatively short and sweet. Paul Linford thinks the Queen's speech was another missed opportunity for Brown, 5CC discovers, incredibly, that carol singers haven't been banned, Sim-O has a look at the BNP's view of the equality act, Anton Vowl imagines that Rupert Murdoch is completely benign, and also takes a gander at the comment of both Peter Hobbins and the red ink brigade in the Mail's section, the Heresiarch notes the EU's unelectoral politics while Sunder Katwala has a fascinating early history of ethnic minority candidates and representatives, circa the turn of the last century.

In the papers, or at least their sites, Matthew Parris doesn't think much of the Queen's speech, Janice Turner is not very convincing on how a small band of warriors turned away the scourge of modern life which is lap dancing, Andrew Grice has some background to how out of nowhere, Baroness Ashton became the EU's foreign minister, Christina Patterson notes what we have to learn from the Sikh who might become the BNP's first non-white electoral candidate and Peter Oborne thinks Blair looks haunted and has a lot to be haunted by.

As for worst tabloid article, the only real contender is Karol Sikora, who denounces NICE as a "Stalinist quango", denying cancer drugs which are available elsewhere in Europe. Clearly instead we should leave such decisions to elected ministers, who can't even begin to make a cost-effective analysis and are completely open to political pressure, from both campaigners and drug companies alike. This would also be the Mail that loathes taxes wanting even more money to be spent on drugs that give only the slightest amount of extra, often painful, life. Why not go the whole hog and call it a death panel, as the right in America seem to think the NHS is all about?

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Saturday, November 14, 2009 

Weekend links.

As you probably don't know, a glorious publication which has brightened all our lives reached a significant milestone recently. Enough about Viz though, the Sun has also been celebrating its 40th birthday. In recognition of 40 years of tits, lies and propaganda Tim has put together a rather special video which is well worth your perusal. Claude also has a post with a short history of the paper's brilliance.

Elsewhere things are rather slow. Craig Murray has the latest in an increasingly bitter war of words with the Quilliam Foundation's lawyers, Paul Linford, reflecting on the Sun's misreading of the public mood over Jacqui Janes argues that sympathy is not the same as trust, Unity informs us about "EmoTrance", not the fusion of emo and trance music, in case you were wondering, voltairespriest has a fascinating post on how Nick Griffin seems to think that the English Defence League is part of a "Zionist false flag" operation, Hopi Sen attacks the idiocy which is the view that the poor are betrayed by voting Labour, and finally Third Estate has an informative piece on the ratcheting up of tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

In the papers, or at least on their sites, Christina Patterson seems to be invoking the Sex Pistols song Holidays in the Sun over the plea from the Iraqi tourism minister for visitors to return, Geoffrey Wheatcroft writes an accurate in places and not quite there in others piece on the tragedy of Gordon Brown, while Peter Oborne thinks Brown has perversely just had his best week in a year. Marina Hyde notes that the partnership between Murdoch and the current incumbent or soon to be can only end in tears, Howard Jacobson says the best way to deal with Nick Griffin is to put him on Strictly Come Dancing, Andrew Grice suggests Whitehall is already gearing up for a change of government, and Esther Addley considers whether the X Factor is killing pop. Not just pop, but "mainstream" music as a whole, I'd suggest.

As for worst tabloid article, we have a choice of two. First up is the Daily Mail with a fairly standard scare piece over the explicitness of music lyrics. This from a newspaper which has directly below the article a quite lovely report on Alexandra Burke's "never-ending legs", and how she certainly knows how to "please a crowd". Tabloid Watch points out that a search for cleavage on the Mail's site returns 987 results, even more than the equivalent on the Sun's. The winner though in my eyes is a staggering hatchet job on Professor David Nutt in the Sun, which rather than attacking the man himself instead goes for his children via their social networking profiles. They reproduce a photo of his son Steve with a roll-up in his mouth, claiming it shows him "apparently smoking dope". I'm no expert, but it looks suspiciously to me like an ordinary roll-up rather than one containing a substance more exotic than tobacco. Not content with that, his daughter is the next target, her crime having uploaded a photograph with herself with friends carrying a bottle of spirits. Lastly, eldest son Johnny is raked over the coals for having photographs on his profile of himself naked in the snow in Sweden. No hypocrisy there whatsoever, then.

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Saturday, November 07, 2009 

Weekend links.

No real theme this weekend. Condolences though to the family of Chris Harman, who died suddenly last night. Also worth mourning the demise of Sadie's Tavern (formerly the British Bullshit Foundation), all the more so for the reasoning which I sadly agree with. Anyway, Paul Linford thinks Christopher Kelly's review of parliamentary expenses has gone too far, Neil Robertson defends Obama against the New Statesman, Tom Freeman notes the Times' sudden discovery that using the word autism in a disparaging way can be considered offensive, the Heresiarch sees the contradiction in Gordon Brown's case for staying in Afghanistan, while BenSix has discovered that Liam Fox is next week inviting that well-known humanitarian Henry Kissinger to this country to give him the "Margaret Thatcher Medal of Freedom". That'll be our next overlords welcoming with open arms a war criminal. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Finally, Claude lambasts the inexorable rise of poppy fascism.

In the papers, or at least their sites, Matthew Parris and Paul Flynn argue for the end of the Afghan war, while John Hutton makes the case for the other side. Janice Turner thinks we should turn our ire on the things that matter, Howard Jacobson fights the good fight against trash culture, Andrew Grice notes David Cameron abandoning his European promises, Marina Hyde anticipates the Simon Mann saga, Seumas Milne meets Noam Chomksy while article of the weekend is the Graun's own attack on the rise of poppy fascism. About fucking time.

As for worst tabloid article of the weekend, we have the usual contender from Amanda Platell, once again dealt with by Tabloid Watch, an abortion from the usually decent Peter Oborne on how Gordon Brown is running "a scorched earth campaign", but the winner is this utter pile of cock masquerading as a Sun leader comment:

WHEN the Prime Minister told a radio audience: "I don't think they're very good", we could be forgiven for thinking he was talking about his Cabinet.

But no. He was trying to show how with-it he is by passing a verdict on the X Factor twins John and Edward.

You might reckon he would have better things to talk about with his young listeners in Manchester. Like the war in Afghanistan.

Because he obviously didn't talk about that. He didn't have to work with the questions he was given. The Sun attacking a politician for having his mind on trivia is pretty much about as hypocritical as you can get. That would be bad enough if the paper then didn't use this as an argument:

Yet Google "Gordon Brown and Michael Jackson" and you get 11,400,000 results.

Google "Gordon Brown and Afghanistan" and you get less than a third of that - 3,100,000.

This couldn't possibly be because the internet is more interested in Michael Jackson and the doubtless millions of news stories about him than good old Gordie and Afghanistan, could it? No, it must be Gordon Brown's fault. Jesus wept.

It is the fate of our heroes fighting a cruel and bitter war in that faraway land that should be occupying his every waking moment right now.

Especially as we prepare to honour our forces in tomorrow's Remembrance Sunday ceremonies.

In a year when the death toll of our soldiers will be the highest since the Falklands War we will wear our poppies with extra pride.

As Prime Minister, Gordon Brown should be leading the way.

Quite right. Tomorrow he should be at the cenotaph in sackcloth and ashes, with the biggest, reddest poppy anyone has ever seen. That'll make all the difference.

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Saturday, October 31, 2009 

Weekend links.

First off, it seems that Islam 4 UK aka Anjem Choudary and co, chickened out at the last minute from holding their march for Sharia law, instead moving it to an "unknown" location, presumably Wandsworth, although no one seems to know whether it went ahead or not. The counter-demos did however take place, and Sunny has some pictures.

Elsewhere the exploits of David Nutt and Alan Johnson are foremost in the thoughts of others. Justin, Aaron, Chris Dillow and Neil Robertson all have posts on the sacking, sorry I mean resignation. Paul Linford isn't keen on the idea of Blair getting the EU presidency, although it seems highly unlikely he will, while Laurie Penny has a typically forceful post on the vigil for Ian Baynham.

In the papers, or at least their sites, Peter Oborne asks whether Blair was betraying Britain for years with his eye on the EU presidency, one of those newspaper questions to which the answer is always no. Matthew Parris says being on the fence on Europe is the least painful position, which rather depends on the type of fence, and Tom Whipple hardly makes the best case for the continued criminalisation of cannabis by saying it comes from "ruthless, violent men". Because we couldn't have it sold by the local off-licence alongside the fags, could we? Amy Jenkins argues we're all paranoid about drugs, while Howard Jacobson in his usual style rather wonderfully takes down Jimmy Carr. Article of the weekend though, amazingly, is Ed Husain for a quite wonderful take down of Melanie Phillips, one of the few people who might make some on the right listen about her rampant insanity.

As for the worst tabloid article of the weekend, Tabloid Watch has done another smackdown of Amanda Platell, while without blowing my own horn in the slightest I've rather slapped down the Sun over its latest bout of Facebook-bashing. Make your own choice.

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Saturday, October 24, 2009 

Weekend links.

There's still only one thing anyone seems interested in talking about, and I think you know what it is, so may as well get on with it. Unity thinks Griffin might have lied about his father's war record, Paul Linford, Flying Rodent, Shiraz Socialist (x2), Hopi Sen, the Heresiarch and Don Paskini all also have varying views on our very own wannabe Fuhrer, while Tabloid Watch does my usual job of attacking Ms Amanda Platell.

In the papers, Matthew Parris writes on how we should not be sacrificing free speech, which both Mr Eugenides and John B comment further on. Bonnie Greer, the only person on QT apart from Dimbleby and some members of the audience who came out of it well, also contributes a piece on it to the Times. Diane Abbott further comments on QT in the Indie, while Howard Jacobson without knowing it also adds to the debate started by Parris. Peter Oborne in the Mail worries about those advising David Cameron on foreign policy, while Andrew Grice reckons that Cameron has still yet to win over significant parts of his party.

As for worst tabloid article, again the job seems to have been done for me by Anton Vowl, who slaughters both the Mail and Express for their ridiculously hysterical criticisms of how Question Time was put on.

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Saturday, October 10, 2009 

Weekend links and hiatus.

Most of the blogs are still reflecting on the Conservative party conference this weekend. Paul Linford provides his usual weekly column on Cameron's vision and emulation of Blair, Dave Semple and paulinlincs provide 10 lies about the Tory conference and a critique of Michael Gove's speech, as does Neil Robertson, Paulie waxes lyrical on the Tories and the economy, Tom Freeman glimpses into his crystal ball and finds the Tories winning the Nobel prize for economics and Hopi Sen notes the contradictions in Cameron's speech. In general miscellany, Craig Murray explains why he's certain the inquiry into MPs' expenses by Thomas Legg will be a whitewash, Ten Percent is glad the EDL protesters in Manchester were outnumbered, Phil BC explains why MPs' second jobs are about to become an issue, Tory Troll is stunned by an act of obvious cronyism by Boris Johnson, one which if New Labour had committed they would doubtless have been more than ridiculed about, while both Dave Cole and the Heresiarch have thoughts on Barack Obama winning the Nobel peace prize.

In the papers, or at least their websites, Howard Zinn also considers Obama's win, Marina Hyde reflects on the Strictly race row, Charlie Brooker attacks the BBC's awful Radio 1 promos, David Blancheflower is decidedly unconvinced by the Tories' economic policies, Matthew Parris is already worrying about the problems Cameron might have with his backbenchers, Janice Turner provides easily the finest piece of the weekend in noting that the Tories' policies on taxing alcohol seem to be based on social snobbery just as much as practicality (take note Graun and Indie: she's far too good for the Times, although the same could probably be said about Parris), Andrew Grice thinks the Tories still need to flesh out their policies, Yvonne Roberts is yet another person critical of Michael Gove's education plans and lastly Howard Jacobson provides his usual take on something completely different, this week on art and privilege vis-a-vis Tracey Emin.

As for worst tabloid article, it's one of those weeks when we're treated to a whole host of potential winners. The Daily Mail out does itself in deploring a "happy slapping" video posted on Facebook, then helps to propagate it by providing six all action screen shots (via Tabloid Watch). Elsewhere in the Mail Amanda Platell has her usual go, this week wondering what all the fuss surrounding someone saying something racist is about, as well as providing an especially paranoid conspiracy theory "explaining it". She also naturally thinks Gove's education plans are wonderful. Meanwhile the Sun has fallen victim yet again to Maddie-balls, this time convinced that a photograph of a girl that looks slightly like Madeleine might look now that she's six could be her. Let me confidently predict that it isn't. The winner though is the Sun's leader column, which launches a quite extraordinary attack on Rowan Williams for daring at yesterday's memorial ceremony for those who died in Iraq to wonder whether "freeing" the country was the right thing to do. If a religious leader can't explore such questions of morality without fear of being monstered politically, who can? Would they attack the Pope in such a way, who has also expressed highly similar sentiments and when the previous one also opposed the war? Or is it, to remember Stalin's question of how many divisions did the Pope have, that the Sun can get away with it when it's Beardie?

And with that, I shall be indisposed until next Monday. Have fun.

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Saturday, October 03, 2009 

Weekend links.

You probably won't be able to read this, so please excuse the lack of overall effort in this week's weekend links (Update: fixed, no but thanks to Dreamhost for suddenly moving me from one server to another without bothering to tell me). On the Irish yes vote to the Lisbon treaty, although some wrote before the result was known, Lenin bemoans the victory for neoliberalism, Bob wonders where this leaves the Tories, as does Jamie, while Nosemonkey critiques the view that having a second vote was undemocratic. On the spectre of the Conservatives coming to power, Sunny wonders where it'll leave the left, Freemania calls Giles Coren a prat while noting that Cameron, as well as employing someone who drives behind him while he bikes in to Westminster is also now doing his bit for the unemployment figures by having someone permanently around to take photos of him. Lastly, Back Towards the Locus notes the links between the Tory frontbench and the "Atlantic Bridge".

In the papers, or at least their sites, Matthew Parris and Peter Oborne have high hopes and lessons for Cameron, Polly Toynbee warns that these "new Tories" have sharp teeth, while Michael Brown and Andrew Grice still think it isn't all over. David Lister calls for an end to meaningless awards, while Howard Jacobson probably makes the most well argued case for calling a spade a spade and "getting tough" over the thuggery which led to Fiona Pilkington killing herself and her daughter which I've read in a while; without convincing me, it should be added.

As for worst tabloid article, it goes to Max Hastings for his swooning article on Cameron, and I shall direct you to Tabloid Watch, who does the job of explaining why for me.

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Saturday, September 26, 2009 

Weekend links.

A fairly slow weekend considering the start of the Labour conference and the news concerning Iran. The Daily (Maybe) has some thoughts on the latter while Harpymarx examines Labour's descent into the sewer. Paul Linford is still wondering what their conference leaves the Lib Dems standing for, 5CC notes the month long plight of London assembly BNPer Richard Barnbrook for lying about murders, Justin remembers John Prescott as the feminist he has always strived to be, Dave Osler reflects on lessons from Northern Ireland, Paulie is perhaps a little too hopeful that the Tory reign won't last for long, Tom Freeman sees what passes for truth in broadcasting, Claude reviews the last Dispatches and the Third Estate does Chris Harman's Zombie Capitalism.

In the papers, or at least their sites, Matthew Parris thinks he knows why the Lib Dem "mansion tax" would be doomed to failure or revolt, Marina Hyde knows that the special relationship is only so to us, both Andrew Grice and Steve Richards preview the week coming in Brighton, Peter Oborne says the Lady Scotland debacle shows that Labour is incapable of cleaning up politics, and A.N. Wilson (yes, him) writes an actually humane piece on euthanasia. Polly Toynbee also drafts Gordon Brown's resignation speech for him, which the Heresiarch responds to.

As for the worst tabloid article, the only real contender this week is the usual, Amanda Platell, and by her standards she's not that bad this week. Just her bitchiness about what Miriam Clegg(?) was wearing, as well as someone nonsense about the BBC "banning" the word "gipsy" (surely gypsy, the word the tabloids avoid because of its protection under the Race Relations Act?):

Cleggs's divine wife Miriam arrived at conference in a masculine, sheer, white shirt and floppy black braces that kept slipping off her slim shoulders. Fashion faux pas or a blatant appeal to the lucrative lesbian vote?

Platell would of course know all about the "lucrative lesbian vote".

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