Tuesday 29 September 2009

A putative Brown and Cameron General Election debate

The PM programme this evening discussed the merit of a radio debate between the party leaders over a television screening of an exchange.

The journalist Andrew Billen suggested a radio debate would be Any Questions? at best or The Moral Maze at worst. Which is about right.

Unfortunately, on a television debate Gordon Brown risks coming over like Richard Nixon in the American 1960 Presidential debates. In fact, there were four, the first from September 26 is on YouTube.

Monday 28 September 2009

Neil Clark on censorship

In a 2003 Daily Telegraph article Neil Clark wrote:
As an up-and-coming Labour backbencher, [Roy] Jenkins had written, in the late 1950s, a tract entitled Is Britain Civilised?, in which he attacked Britain's "archaic" laws on censorship, homosexuality, divorce and abortion
So censorship, interpreting Clark's scare quote, is justified? Actually, Clark is referring to the last chapter (merely p135-140) of Jenkins' short book The Labour Case, one of three Penguin Specials written by representatives of the main parties for the 1959 General Election, rather than a complete work. Clark refers to Jenkins' first period as Home Secretary:
Now it was full steam ahead to give support to private members' Bills to decriminalise abortion and homosexuality, relax censorship and make divorce easier.
The anti-censorship Bill he is thinking of became the Theatres Act 1968; the republican Clark presumably believes a member of the Royal Household should have continued to censor play scripts. The Obscene Publications Act of 1959, Jenkins had been involved in its parliamentary passage, had already led to suppressed works being published in the UK for the first time, albeit sometimes following a court case.

I bring all this up because Clark has an article in the current New Statesmen in which he complains about new censorship laws in Serbia. Apparently under them, opponents will be blocked from making derogatory comments about the government. Of cause, it is really yet another retrospective defence of his hero, Slobodan Milošević. One recalls the Serbian authorities banning the independent B92 radio station in 1991 and 1996 and other interferences in the operation of a free press. A paper on this subject was written for the hearings of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in the Hague (.pdf file or Google html conversion). Clark really condemns in order to condone. On p15 of the ICTY document, there is a summary:
A careful review of media coverage in Serbia [from 1987 onwards] demonstrates that the "need" to expel the non-Serbs is a recurrent theme in the media - whether the message is conveyed by politicians, intellectuals, military personnel, journalists etc. The entire press repeated systematically and all together the inflammatory declarations referring to the dangers confronting the Serbian peoples and explicitly or implicitly threatening the non-Serbs with reprisals. [For simplicity, I have removed references from this passage.]
Not exactly a pluralist media.

Strange though how he comes over all liberal when he is defending people he admires. Only last week in the Morning Star, writing about "leftists who didn't sell out", Clark was referring to the "liberal brand of communism" pursued by another of his heroes, János Kádár, who was imposed by the Soviets after their overthrow of the Imre Nagy government in 1956. Clark's article has been rubbished by Andrew Coates and Captainjako of Frank Owen's Paintbrush (here and here).

Monday 14 September 2009

An appeal

It is important as much information as possible is freely available on the internet, and easily accessible too. In this context I was saddened to discover that the Wikipedia article on the British journalist Neil Clark is up for deletion again. A previous attempt in the summer of 2007 was successful, but the article rightly reappeared a few months later.

I urge readers to oppose the deletion of the article on Neil Clark. If you do not have a Wikipedia account, they can be created quickly. The Afd (Article for deletion) tag was added to the article today, and will be carried out in a week's time unless there is sufficient opposition. A pity if the article should go, because Clark's peculiar politics need to be detailed, and he is more than significant enough to be the subject of one article out of three million. An interest should be declared, the present writer heavily contributed to the article under discussion.

Tuesday 1 September 2009

Peter Hitchens on World War II

This Daily Mail article has to be read to be believed. The counterfactual form takes a ridiculous turn; nowhere does Hitchens' accept that the Third Reich had to be destroyed. And he follows an argument Diana and Oswald Mosley made that leaving Hitler with a free hand in continental Europe would have saved the British Empire. As if it was worth saving.