Monday 31 August 2009

Does the BBC have a liberal bias?

About time someone took apart the BBC has a 'liberal bias' argument, which Mehdi Hasan does in this week's New Statesman. Responding to a piece on Peter Hitchens' blog, Hasan issued a challenge to him, Hasan has now deconstructed Hitchens' posting.

By the way, Hitchens original article in the Statesman is here.

Thursday 27 August 2009

Just fancy that!

Peter Hitchens, referring to people who have used his unpleasant nickname, gave this response in a 2005 Guardian interview:
I don't like being called 'bonkers' and I think to some extent it demeans people who use phrases like that. But I take comfort from the fact that most totalitarian regimes tend to classify their opponents as mentally disordered.
And lock them up too, but Hitchens, in at least the form he was quoted, failed to make the distinction.

On Monday, Hitchens headed an entry on his blog: "The growing need for medical tests to determine which side politicians are on." Having spent years trying to label New Labour figures as marxist, it is not surprising he fails to recognise Michael Gove's reasons for admiring Tony Blair as consistent with a Conservative viewpoint, and to see it as being a disorder. Blair once had to deny being a neo-conservative himself, a label Gove happily accepts.

So what kind of regime would be likely to meet Peter Hitchens' "need?"

Tuesday 25 August 2009

The BNP don't like it up 'em!

Yesterday, I referred indirectly to the discriminatory practices the BNP uses towards 'potential' members. The Equality and Human Rights Commission is taking them to court.

One court action which deserves to succeed.

Monday 24 August 2009

Rod Liddle's misogynistic offensiveness

The veracity of The Spectator's Rod Liddle is unclear, but his talent to amuse is non-existent. A few months ago Liddle was staying in a hotel somewhere in the middle east "which is renowned for its profusion and diversity of whores." He continues:
This is all a problem for me, because while I would like to talk to some of these whores — just to be companionable — there are also plenty of normal non-whore women staying in the hotel.
Why stay in a hotel with such a "problem?" Rod, why should you want to talk to women who are not "normal?"
And it is impossible for me to tell these two very different classes of people apart: they seem to me to be dressed identically.
A contradiction?
I daresay for someone more observant there would be differences of nuance, but nothing that I can discern. What should I do? Mistake some middle-class fraulein for a 30 quid an hour slapper and I could be in serious trouble.
So you want to be more than "companionable?" Rod, what is it you want to do?
They should have little plastic ID tags, the whores, like the ones worn by people attending conferences about dental hygiene and what have you.
How would that help resolve your confusion? The women with the tags would be thrown out of the hotel.

The rest of the article is not quite so awful, though his claim that Islam consists of "poisonous sexism" and "misogyny", and government responses to Islam "end up being illiberal, bullying and devoid of principle", is difficult to stomach when Liddle's writing displays just those qualities.

A favourite female target is the Labour Party's deputy leader Harriet Harman. Last April, Liddle was revolting rather than satirical:
Harriet Harman’s plan to remove the wombs from all British women and force them to go to work as stockbrokers and hedge-fund managers in the City of London. How she intends to remove the wombs, and what she will do with 30 million of them when she is done, has not yet been decided.
Earlier this month, he had another pop at Harman in an article charmingly titled "Harriet Harman is either thick or criminally disingenuous." It is based on the assumption that Harman, 60 next year, may soon be Labour leader. Unlikely, but that has never stopped anyone filing their copy before.

Liddle opens with his 'doing it' obsession, though rejecting the reader's presumptive option:
I think you have more self-respect, a greater sense of self-worth, no matter how much you’ve had to drink. I think you’d make your excuses and leave, just as the first bars of ‘Me Myself I’ strike up. I think you’d do the same with most of the babes who were once, or are now, on the government front bench.
Labour women, in Liddle's estimation, are 'lower' than the women he was writing about six weeks earlier. Is it likely any of them would fancy him? The musical reference is to Joan Armatrading's "Me Myself I" jazz fans, not Billie Holiday's "Me, myself and I." Liddle goes on to (un)intentionally sustain objections by feminists that female politicians are assessed on the basis of their looks.

A few weeks ago, Peter Hitchens closed his Mail on Sunday column with a lament:
As long as people think types like Jeremy Clarkson are the voice of conservative patriotism, the cause of Britain is doomed.
One could add other oafs to this list, like A. A Gill and Liddle himself, whose not unsympathetic articles about the BNP are pretty disgusting too.

Tariq Ramadan sacked in Rotterdam

Andrew Coates (whose blog I should have placed on this list) reproduces part of a French news report and cites this article from a Swiss English language site.

Stalin and the left

James Marson has a piece on Stalin and the left at 'Comment is Free', which I pretty much agree with. The appeal of Stalin in the UK is limited, but the developments in Russia and the former soviet republics, which Marson mainly discusses, are worrying. This report from last month, concerning the suppression of online material in Russia, is also worth reading. Defenders of the Putin/Medvedev government can be found in the UK's press occasionally.

Marson's conclusion is worth stressing:
It is a bitter pill for some on the left to swallow that what Stalin did in the name of apparently laudable goals was horrific. Maybe some politicians are using the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact and comparisons between Stalin and Hitler to smear the left and Russia. But to my mind, if the left, along with the Russian leadership, is still unwilling to face the horrors of Stalinism and the devastation it wrought across central and Eastern Europe, it is smearing itself.
The defence of authoritarian regimes is unlikely to appeal to more than a tiny portion of the electorate here, but enough of the organised left still has the capacity to defend such regimes to prevent the emergence of any credible alternative to New Labour. Some people though, have split loyalties.

The BNP entertains

Two other blogs (here and here) have already discussed this story* from yesterday's News of the World on the BNP's "Red White and Blue 'fun' weekend" event.

One incident described is a mock trial of a golliwog named Winston and the burning of the effigy. The paper offers a link to a BNP video of the burning; the Screws is trying to have it both ways, but that is the way of tabloids on this kind of story.

It does offer more of the 'real' paranoid Nick Griffin though. In this passage he responds to potential anti-discrimination legislation to force the BNP to accept non-white members:
"Since if we want to survive we will be forced to let them in, the key will be before we do so to change the party - to ensure that whoever's coming in doesn't have any control."
Clumsy syntax for a member of the 'master race'. It is not very likely anyone from the groups the BNP detest would join, and Griffin temporarily forgets the history of white moles in the far-right, of which Ray Hill is the best known.

They have contempt for those they claim to represent:
Greater London Authority member Richard Barnbrook joked about BLACKING himself up.

The deputy opposition leader of Barking and Dagenham council boasted: "I've got balls made of steel. In my own ward, if I go around naked, and put boot polish on my face, they'd still love me."
And attempt to normalize their offensive neanderthal attitudes:
"P*ki means pure. So why do you get offended when all that they're doing is calling you pure?" he whined. "You get called a P*ki, how can you get offended by that?"
They do not like non-national whites either, and would-be psycopaths were present:
Marshall said: "The Lithuanians and Czechs are sneaking in because they're white. You find the f***ers on the doorstep."

Bev added: "These guys from Poland came into Cotmanhay and did a car wash. Somebody wrote BNP on their sign - once that was there they were gone . . . guess who that was? Me and Danny. I wrote BNP."

Elsewhere another man moaned: "If things don't become any better, and I become older, so I'm 70 or 75, I'll take a GPMG (machine gun) - seriously, I'm not joking here - and I'm going to f***ing destroy lots of people."
Not the kind of people any real 'law and order' conservative would contrive to defend.

*Apologies if you have stumbled across this piece via Google after Rupert Murdoch's imposition of website charges, but the two other blogs have different quotations from the original article.

Sunday 23 August 2009

Catherine Bennett hits the nail...

One recent particularly telling entry on the Lenin's Tomb blog concerned the threat to the continued publication of The Observer newspaper. Apparently, Richard Seymour considers its closure would not be much of a loss because of the journalists it employs and its demographics, which display a bias towards high earners. One could be mischievous and suggest the reference to its journalists does not allow for the defence of any 'capitalist' newspaper which might be under threat now or in the future. Those newspapers at the top end of the market tend to be the least unreadable, regardless of their politics.

My most incendiary reader (numerous clues in the drop-down lists on the right) will doubtless be surprised that I have had very mixed feelings about Nick Cohen's columns for some years. Usually though, the mouse button is pressed on the link to his articles. One Observer columnist who is invariably readable is Catherine Bennett, who this week writes on John Cleese's recent divorce settlement. Bennett is right to mock Michael Winner's snobbery about Alyce Faye Eichelberger Cleese's former residence in a London council flat ("Perhaps he worries that she will spend all the money on scratch cards and pizza"), and quite rightly choose to highlight Cleese's rather chauvinist response to his ex-wife ("I got off lightly. Think what I’d have had to pay Alyce if she had contributed anything to the relationship"). Cleese seems to have lost any connection to the real world: "At least I will know in future if I go out with a lady they will not be after me for my money." He is still worth about £10 million.

Catherine Bennett concludes:
The tale of Mr Cleese and Ms Eichelberger makes Woody Allen look like a really brilliant advertisement for psychotherapy.
Non, c'est moi.

The British People's Alliance rises again

What is the British People's Alliance you may ask? Its genesis dates from 2007 when it was created by a blogger named David Lindsay, and it was temporarily registered with the Electoral Commission. Like god, it does not really exist, except in the imagination: Lindsay is the organisation's only known member. Following the debacle with official registration, He is now trying to enlist the support of independents (though He allows for candidates from real political parties) who share His principles and intend to stand in the general election next year. The current version of the manifesto was published online recently and is worth a look if you want a good laugh.

It is organised like an examination paper, but as a candidate, in place of answering questions, you have to sign for a compulsory opening section, and eight of the twelve assertions in the second section which follows. So in practice, as an approved candidate, one would be agreeing to a series of written oaths in order for the chief examiner (Lindsay) to pass you as a fit member of his network.

You can start now.
We seek to build a network including one parliamentary candidate (of any party or none) in each constituency, on the following basis.
OK, adding the emphasis was irresistible. The use of "we" is, of cause, used in the Royal sense. The repetition of "I fight" in the compulsory section is somewhat troubling, quite apart from the absence of the word "will", but as there is no penalty for skipping all of it, I shall.

Lindsay is a former Labour parish councillor in Co. Durham, now sitting as an independent, and He is trying to appeal to a labour movement folk memory, one which happens to be unique to Himself. Mysteriously, He also blogs for The American Conservative magazine, whose co-founder was one Pat Buchanan. David Lindsay is keeping His options open.

Sunday 16 August 2009

Peter Hitchens and death

Peter Hitchens, in his Mail on Sunday column, contrasts David Cameron's put downs of Tory MEP Daniel Hannan and MP Alan Duncan. In defending Hannan over Duncan, "a keen supporter of the sexual and cultural revolution" (he is in a civil partnership), Hitchens makes the following point:
I happen to think that we make too much of a fetish about health care, here and in America, because we’re all anxious to keep death at a distance and pretend it doesn’t exist.
Well, we would! Understandably, most people want to live for as long as possible, and usually feel for those who do not enjoy a healthy life. I think Hitchens wants to leave it all to god.
The truth is that doctors can patch us up if we injure ourselves, cure a rather limited number of diseases with pills or surgery, and comfort us if we feel rotten – but most of our ills are caused by the way we live, and many are the inevitable results of age.

Politics has no answer to this.
Really? Medical science is fixed forever, and the allocation of resources across the country and throughout the population is not an issue? A fortnight ago, Hitchens objected to the Asquith government being "pioneers of the welfare state". So in fact politics has a solution Hitchens' dislikes, but he is trying to avoid admitting he thinks in this way. In fact, some of the Asquith government's policies on welfare were motivated by the shocking physical health of recruits during the Boer war, rather than from basic human decency or 'left-wing' politics.

Saturday 8 August 2009

Press TV

Looking for something else online, I stumbled across "Press TV peddles pernicious tosh" by Oliver Kamm in The Jewish Chronicle, which includes this:
In other programmes, the choice of guests extends to the bizarrely insignificant. One recent commentator was a pro-Milosevic blogger known for faking laudatory comments about himself under female pseudonyms on third-party websites.
Now who might that be?