Thursday 2 September 2010

The Sun Says It

Under the heading "Sick Smears" a Sun editorial today has this to say:
HOW desperately sad that William Hague is forced to reveal private heartache [his wife's miscarriages] to silence malicious gossip.

Mr Hague, Tory Foreign Secretary and a politician of immense integrity, is the victim of a baseless whispering campaign suggesting a relationship with a male aide.

It is a miserable sign of the debasement of our politics that such rubbish can be peddled.

We can only speculate on who is delighting in smearing Mr Hague.
The innuendo about Mr Hague and his former aide first appeared on the right-wing Guido Fawkes blog, but "we" can assume the writer is implying it originates from the official opposition. But which publication in 1998, following the 'outing' of Peter Mandelson by Matthew Parris, asked whether the Labour government then in power had a "gay mafia" and was forced to apologise within days. This incident came after years of homophobia from Richard Littlejohn, Garry Bushell and other contributors. Readers will recognise the construction, but other Sun haters may smile at the implication that the rag recognises it has published rubbish.

Wednesday 7 July 2010

Potentially stuffed?

Monday's Start the Week featured Peter Hennessy referring to discussions in February held at the Cabinet Office about the “tacit understandings” around a potential hung parliament. He is nominally referring to an Election night broadcast:
Hennessy: … I had to bat for the British Constitution on the BBC Election programme, and if I hadn’t had this bit of paper to wave it would be extremely difficult to the hold the line. Because people were ... politicians [were] exhausted, seeing their possibility of office being snatched away, were saying what they wanted the constitution to be rather than what it is, and without that bit of paper, I would have been stuffed Andy.
Marr: [gulps] Well I, … we wouldn’t want that Peter. (pause, laughter) […] Certainly not on air.
Now what could the ‘private’ joke be about? Happily this event, or rather exchange, will be available on the BBC site until 1 January 2099; the comments above occurred at about the 40 minute point.

Sunday 4 July 2010

Shifting Sands

"Once again the Useless Tories are thinking of bringing Ken Clarke back to their front bench, so as to look as if they have some, er, bottom.

"Mr Clarke is without doubt an asset, a quick-witted and human politician who has a life outside Westminster (his love of jazz is genuine, not a pose). He also has plenty of bottom." Peter Hitchens "Will Israel never learn? Each bomb is a gift to its enemies: Devaluing the £ in our pockets", Mail on Sunday, 3 January 2009

"So much for the Tories, then. Surely, this must be the end. Finding that nobody takes seriously their ‘Shadow Cabinet’ of unknowns and teenagers, and unknown teenagers, they have delved into the cupboard of the yesterdays.

"In there they have found Ken Clarke, an unreliable medium-range missile, decommissioned many years back because of its habit of landing on its own troops. Next it’ll be John Major, Lord Heseltine and Michael Howard. That should cure us all of nostalgia. ... No government containing Mr Clarke could offer anything better than a repeat of the Major years." Peter Hitchens "What use is Ken against Mandy? They agree on everything", Mail on Sunday, 24 January 2009

"But Mr Clarke doggedly keeps on in active politics, a rare grown-up in a government of inexperienced and callow young men. I actually rather like Mr Clarke, as do many people. (He is funny and convivial, his enthusiasm for jazz is genuine, and his knowledge of it real, and he tends to tell the truth in preference to spin. He took it in good part when I once tried to present him with a Labour Party membership card)." Peter Hitchens "What will real Conservatives do about this Torberal Government?" Mail Online weblog, 12 May 2010

"I agree completely with that awful old wet liberal Ken Clarke. Talking about politicians and crime, he says ‘the failure of the past has been to use tough rhetoric and to avoid taking tough decisions that might prove unpopular’.

"Quite. I would much rather have an honest, straightforward mugger-hugger like Ken in charge, weeping and snuffling about rehabilitation and similar rubbish, than a false friend of the people like that phoney hard man and closet liberal Michael Howard, all mouth and no truncheon.

"That way, we all know from the start that we can expect no help from the State against the misery of modern Britain... What unites Michael Howard and Ken Clarke (and the Labour Party, and the Liberals) is that they wilfully don’t have a clue about crime or disorder. They wilfully know nothing about policing. They wilfully don’t understand what happens in prisons. They know that the truth is very Right-wing indeed, so they hide from it." Peter Hitchens "This mugger-hugger knows the truth, just like the ‘all mouth and no truncheon’ phoney", Mail on Sunday, 4 July 2010

Friday 2 July 2010

Pat Buchanan ... and Neil Clark

"Those of us in childhood during the war years were introduced to Hitler only as a caricature … Though Hitler was indeed racist and anti-Semitic to the core, a man who without compunction could commit murder and genocide, he was also an individual of great courage, a soldier’s soldier in the Great War, a leader steeped in the history of Europe, who possessed oratorical powers that could awe even those who despised him. But Hitler’s success was not based on his extraordinary gifts alone. His genius was an intuitive sense of the mushiness, the character flaws, the weakness masquerading as morality that was in the hearts of the statesmen who stood in his path." Pat Buchanan in the St. Louis Globe – Democrat, 25 August 1977

[on Charles Lindbergh's Des Moines speech, 11 September 1941] "And then he said the Jewish community is beating the drums for war, but this is going to be a disaster for the Jewish community if we get into war. And of course, that was verboten to say, but frankly, no one has said he - what he said was, you know, palpably untrue." The Political Cesspool Radio Show, 29 June 2006 (streamed on Stormfront and other white supremacist websites)

"I write as a committed, and totally unreconstructed, Old Leftist. Yet if Pat Buchanan announced he was standing for president again, I would be on the next plane out to join his campaign team. But how many of my fellow socialists would join me? Until the Left is ready in its hordes to link up electorally with the old antiwar Right, the brutal truth is that we have no chance of defeating the Bush/Blair axis. Buchanan himself has already called for such an alliance." Neil Clark "Why left and right should unite and fight", New Statesman, 17 March 2003

"In the late 1940’s and 1950’s … race was never a preoccupation with us, we rarely thought about it …. There were no politics to polarize us then, to magnify every slight. The ‘Negroes’ of Washington had their public schools, restaurants, bars, movie houses, playgrounds and churches; and we had ours." Pat Buchanan Right From the Beginning (1990)

"This has been a country built, basically, by white folks." Pat Buchanan The Rachel Maddow Show, MSNBC, 16 July 2009 (at around the minute point)

"Rail as they will against ‘discrimination,’ women are simply not endowed by nature with the same measures of single-minded ambition and the will to succeed in the fiercely competitive world of Western capitalism … The momma bird builds the nest. So it was, so it ever shall be. Ronald Reagan is not responsible for this; God is." Pat Buchanan Washington Times, 18 November 1983

"I agree with you about Pat Buchanan - he's certainly more pro-worker than most Clintonian Democrats." Neil Clark's blog comment ("It's time to be radical, Dave") 9 March 2010

"... the left needs to jettison some baggage and spruce up its thinking. Since the 1960s we have picked up several false friends, who have done our cause no good at all. The first of these is political correctness." Neil Clark "Why left and right should unite and fight", New Statesman, 17 March 2003

Sunday 13 June 2010

There's gratitude for you

The Press Gazette quotes Boris Johnson:
"They [the press] are regulated by a Press Complaints Commission whose luminaries include the editor of the Daily Mail."
He means Paul Dacre:
"I'm sure that he is a fine fellow in many ways but I think it's a bit like putting the regulation of door-to-door salesmen in the hands of Boston Strangler."
Dacre is Editor in Chief of Associated Newspapers which, at the time of the London Mayoral election in 2008, wholly owned the London Evening Standard. For much of the noughties the Standard gained a reputation for being tough on Ken Livingstone, Johnson's Labour rival. Is something affecting Johnson's memory?

Roy Greenslade points out: "Dacre is chairman of the editors' code committee, which has no say in the day-to-day running of the PCC. Its membership does not overlap with that of the commission itself."

Off topic, but last January spin doctor Alastair Campbell relayed a theory of a psychologist friend that Dacre is secretly in love with him.

Saturday 5 June 2010

Neil Clark's Cumbrian sojourn

Neil Clark has no doubt about the murders in Cumbria. "In fact, much can be done to explain it", he rather clumsily writes.

The three incidents over the last quarter century (Hungerford, Dunblane and now Cumbria) Clark sees, in a crude determinist analysis, as being caused by the "Americanisation" of our economy. By drawing on our knowledge of similar incidents in the States he can build on his rather flimsy domestic evidence. According to a criminologist at the LSE cited inter alia by Clark "the egotistic culture of a 'market society' has ushered in a new barbarism."

Curiously Clark misses a trick, the old communist bloc appears from this list at Wikipedia to have been free of spree or serial killers - until the Soviet regime was in the process of disintegration. Usually he leaps to the defence of the old Soviet bloc. Quite possibly he thinks the execution of opponents by governments of the left is a good thing. He advocated such barbarism only last month:
[Gordon] Brown's greatest mistake was to underestimate just how leftwards public opinion had shifted on economic matters during the financial crisis. In 2008-9, people didn't just want speeches denouncing bankers' bonuses, they wanted to see bankers hanging from lamp-posts.
Having gloried in imaginary violent acts in the past, Clark continues with his rather pat analysis:
By encouraging us to be selfish and ultra-competitive, neo-liberalism destroys social cohesion. Other people are seen as threats and rivals, and not as potential comrades.
This from someone who has advocated lynchings. But David Wilson in the Daily Mail of all places, has a more credible explanation: "All three killing sprees took place in small, outwardly friendly communities with a strong spirit of neighbourliness." Still largely maintaining the "social cohesion" Clark thinks existed in "the 1940s, 50s, 60s, or 70s" then. He ends with a plea:
[U]nless we adopt a more humane economic system, one which encourages co-operation and not competition, such bloodbaths are only likely to become more common.
"Co-operation" and "humane" economics on Neil Clark's terms?

Friday 4 June 2010

Paul Johnson entertains

You may guess where this is going a long time before reaching the end.

The Daily Mail has been printing extracts from the latest volume of memoirs by the journalist Paul Johnson, who twenty or thirty years ago had a very high profile as a Thatcherite and moralist. Of one of his Oxford contemporaries over sixty years ago, Johnson writes:
[Kenneth] Tynan was not homosexual, as many surmised. Far from it. He was keen on girls - very keen - but his interest was spanking and caning. He told me: 'You'd be surprised how many girls are willing to be spanked.'
He told me he regularly got a journal called the Spanking Times, and liked to open it up and read it during a train journey. 'How the other passengers stare, especially the women.'"
Johnson never confesses to his shared sexual taste, but goes on anyway:
The trouble was he lacked any religious impulse whatsoever, and felt he had no need of spiritual and moral guidance.
All he had in life was the make-believe of the London theatre and the Hollywood movie. Its stars were his angels, good and bad. When I think of him, I shiver, slightly.
But what "moral guidance" has Johnson's Catholicism given him? The urge to be write hypocritically perhaps. In May 1998, the Daily Express exposed Johnson's eleven year extra-marital affair with Gloria Stewart, of which Stewart said at the time:
"Paul loved to be spanked and it was a big part of our relationship. I had to tell him he was a very naughty boy."
Christopher Hitchens took the opportunity to detail Johnson's secret history at some length.

The other two extracts of Johnson's memoir, published by the Mail, are here and here.

Thursday 3 June 2010

The Exodus incident of 1947

The often excellent blog of Adam Curtis on the BBC site has this on the boarding by the British of the Haganah (Israeli defence force) ship SS Exodus which was delivering supplies to Palestine, then blockaded by the Attlee government.

Any passing anthropologists out there should read this slightly earlier posting by Curtis on Afghanistan and the potential for the discipline to be misused.

Wednesday 12 May 2010

A Taxi Driver writes...

Neil Clark (Cab 66, but believed to be an alias of Stephen Byers) comments:
Brown's greatest mistake was to underestimate just how leftwards public opinion had shifted on economic matters during the financial crisis. In 2008-9, people didn't just want speeches denouncing bankers' bonuses, they wanted to see bankers hanging from lamp-posts.
Reader, knowing Clark I think he means it. Saying something threatening half-seriously on twitter resulted in one Paul Chambers (not the long deceased jazz bassist) receiving a punitive fine. Just the kind of behaviour Clark occasionally objects to.

But there is more. In my edits of the Wikipedia article on Clark I was menaced by an editor, soon banned, going under the moniker of 'Citylightsgirl', who thought I was Oliver Kamm or a "close associate" of his. Alas the rest of this demented material has gone from the web, as has the article on Clark from Wikipedia itself, though a late version is preserved elsewhere.

Clark puts up the pretense of being a 'democratic socialist', but much of his writing, and all of the pieces by his wife Zsuzsanna Clark, suggest this is a sham. His comments on the election provided an irresistible opportunity to satirise their politics. Naturally I was rumbled, I had 'forgotten' to log out of Google, but Clark still appears to think Philip Cross is a pseudonym for a prominent person who is out for him. The truth is very prosaic. Clark may assume deceit if I claim never to have been a customer of Tiscali, the internet service provider. But it is a fact, though I know of a public figure who has.

Wednesday 28 April 2010

BNP candidate histories tell a familiar story

Searchlight's Hope not Hate website has an eye opening article titled "New BNP? Same old nazis and thugs" detailing the 'careers' of a number of BNP general election candidates.

Read it!

Wednesday 21 April 2010

Spoil sports

I have mixed feeling about copyright. The lapse of copyright on jazz recordings released over fifty years ago in Europe has meant much obscure material has resurfaced that the multinationals have no interest in continuing to make available to a small niche audience. But at the cost of the work of some companies who do it well being ripped by firms who do it badly.

It is saddening though to discover the company which made the film Downfall (2004), on the last days of Hitler in his Berlin bunker, are pressurising YouTube to remove the endless parodies of the scene where the Fuhrer realises only ghost divisions are defending Berlin. An excellent piece of publicity, which must have led to many people who do not follow the contemporary cinema too closely buying the DVD. OK, that group includes the present writer. We are back to the control of intellectual property rights.

Sunday 21 March 2010

Peter Hitchens on the Tories

Peter Hitchens has been opining about Her Majesty's Official Opposition again:
I am always telling you that the Cameron Tories are Blairism reborn, but you don’t have to take my word for it.
Take the words of Shadow Schools Secretary Michael Gove, spoken a few days ago:
‘At its best, New Labour was a recognition that the values of enterprise and aspiration could be fused with a commitment to social justice and fairness. And the party that best exemplifies that view now is David Cameron’s Conservative Party.’ He said it.
We know Hitchens claims the return of grammar schools would be socially just, but does he mean to suggest a government should pursue unfairness?

Gove delivered a speech last Tuesday, the text is reproduced on the Conservative's website and Hitchen's quote was in response to a journalist's question. Gove commended New Labour for not being Old Labour, identifying the later in the main with fringe figures like Arthur Scargill, and positively viewing NLs acceptance of the Thatcher changes. Gove claims Labour is returning, under Gordon Brown, to the 1970s. His speech as a whole was pretty much a standard Conservative response to their opponents. Perhaps Hitchens was present when Gove delivered his speech, or perhaps not, or has read the cited text, or perhaps not.

Neil Clark contradicts himself

Neil Clark writing about horse racing enthusiasts identifies two character types. Of the kind he does not favour he claims:
Ben, the model new racegoer, is described as "cool and fresh", "intelligent" and someone who is "athletic" and "speaks many languages" [emphasis added]. To me, Ben sounds like the sort of smug, bumptious know-it-all any sane person would emigrate to avoid, let alone want to meet at the races [also here].
But a search uncovered this at the foot of an article from 2002:
Neil Clark describes himself as: "a politically incorrect conservative socialist". He read History, Law and Government at Brunel University in London and speaks four languages: French, Spanish, German and Hungarian.
So is the old biography a fib or the more recent comment an attempt to ingratiate himself with Daily Express readers? What is the answer?

Tuesday 9 March 2010

Neil Clark, libraries, Rushdie and Islam

Time to return to my favourite target: Neil Clark. Always good for light relief combined with nausea, his comments on public libraries was the lead in his latest Morning Star column which was published last Friday. Yet another of his 'good old days' pieces, though he is right to defend public libraries.

The comments section of Clark's blog is always revealing. One of Clark's posters, Mr Piccolo, responding to the piece: "Maybe I am crazy, but I honestly think the neoliberals want regular people to be as ignorant as possible."

Neil Clark @ 21:08 (Monday): "No, you're certainly not crazy: that is exactly what the neoliberals want."

Asked whether he could find find a copy of Salman Rushdie's The Satantic Verses at his local library (in Oxford), Neil Clark wrote at 08:59 (Tuesday): "I very much hope not!" One could have guessed he would see this as an positive part of public provision over any private ownership. In other words Neil, it is can be a means of keeping people ignorant of books and authors you disapprove of. Clearly 'that is exactly what [authoritarians] want' too.

Of Rushdie, Clark writes: "He's a neocon pin-up boy because of his attacks on Islam." But I have written before about his attitude to the Sarkozy government's attempts to ban the burqa in France. Neil Clark rather approves.

Sunday 17 January 2010

Rod Liddle on the Millwall supporters website

Rod Liddle has been outed by the Mail on Sunday as being the poster monkeymfc on a Millwall supporters' website, though Liddle claims to having been the victim of a hacker. Despite this, he is still posting on the site.

In a thread "Internationally notorious 1st 11" we find comments like these:
The problem is always dealing with a mercurial player like Pol Pot. I'd keep him on the bench, use him as an impact player to come on in the last fifteen minutes and kill two million people...
Richard Reid, the shoebomber who forgot to pack a lighter, could be the team's duff signing, unpopular with fans.
Of the "North Korean fella" (a confusion of Kim Il-sung and his son Kim Jong-il) he responds "yes, he's worth a place, bless him." The name of Brian Clough enters the discussion:
Ooooh, careful with Cloughie. May have been Old Labour but still suggested that there were too many "wogs" in the British game (I think he meant ni**ers) and that he'd join the NF if Africa was allowed two places in the world cup.

Africa now has five places in the world cup, btw.
In a later post, after an intervening reference to "Yids", he returns to his African theme, somewhat inconsistently: "Cloughie was ... pro great big grand schemes for the white working class, but racist. I agree with him about ASfrica [sic] and the world cup though..."

In other threads Liddle has made jokes about a visit to Auschwitz and given what appears to be explicit support for the BNP, after another poster complained that he had not seen the English Defence League beat up Asians:
If you read the last Labour manifesto it will tell you that they are the voice of britain - they want better for you, for your family, for everyone. Utter rollocks. So apply the same criteria to the EDL. The EDL want a ruck, simples. If that's all you want, fair enough. I prefer the BNP to the EDL - they DO support the white working class, even if they are thick as chit, misguided and dislike Islam only because it is practised by wogs (check out their policies - could be Hizbut Tahrir).
Liddle is a journalist who has been noticeably soft on the BNP in the past, so these comments contain nothing which will surprise anyone who "can read between the lines".

Saturday 9 January 2010

Oh no, it's Rod Liddle Independent editor!

If, as expected, Alexander Lebedev takes over The Independent it is forecast Rod Liddle will be the next editor. Taking this hint, I wondered what Yasmin Alibhai Brown has been saying about him.

A "Bad Boy Made Rich", Albhai Brown in 2004 discussed his messy private life, and described the man himself as "physically not unlike a malodorous mop in need of chucking out". Last October, she referred to him as being
a braggadocio now considered frightfully brilliant because he vilifies women, black people, Muslims, the BBC and many others with his anti-PC, cutting observations.
Responding to his unpleasant comments about Harriet Harman, discussed here a few months ago, she asked:
Well would you, male or female readers, would you take Liddle to your bed? He looks as unappetising as a half-eaten fish pie left on a plate, was caught with Viagra in his pocket by his now ex-wife, a woman he then humiliated and left for some young thing at the Spectator. Answers directly to Mr Liddle please. Three cheers for Janet Street Porter, Suzanne Moore and others who have slapped him down.
Street Porter referred to Liddle as "that repulsive shagger" who is "all bluster and no balls" and Moore called him "Liddlerod". Tanya Gold is most to the point:
And so I ask – Rod Liddle, then. Would you? I mean after a few beers obviously, not while you were sober.

And I don't mean would you fuck him. I mean – would you believe him?
Thanks: Viv Groskop in the Evening Standard