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.