All 47 entries tagged Politics And Other Things No One Cares About

Because sometimes life is serious

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April 29, 2009

Cc Your Emails To Jacqui Smith

Writing about web page http://www.ccjacquismith.co.uk/index.html

Now admittedly the government’s latest attempt to snoop, the Communications Data Bill, is intended purely to tell the authorities who has emailed who, when and from where, rather than to store all emails sent, including content and attachments. But it’s still a little concerning, and as such the government needs to know we are concerned.

As Big Brother grows it is important that we, Little Brother, grow also, and the government knows we are watching them as closely as they are watching us.

As such there’s an interesting idea out there called ‘Cc Jacqui Smith Into Your Emails’ which plans to pick a day (currently they’re thinking 15th June) to do just that, send all emails you send that day to public.enquiries@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

Now admittedly this won’t reach Jacqui Smith, and will probably mean some poor civil service sap has to spend the day reading guff and crud whilst searching for the few genuine emails, but it’s still an interesting idea. Mischievous but with a point.

Is this the sort of thing we should do more of? When we protest in the streets the authorities overreact and go all Peterloo on our arses, but this is a far more benign form of protest. Whilst technically enough emails sent could cause the website to crash and a Denial of Service attack to be presumed, this isn’t the most likely outcome (or at least it shouldn’t be if the government have good enough systems and people don’t spam them, which the organisers have specified people shouldn’t).

If nothing else it is a pedantic and whimsical (to steal a phrase) way of registering agitation, and could be quite interesting to witness. Would the media care, as it doesn’t come with reams of dramatic images? Would the government notice?

Go to the website where they seem to be a reasonable bunch, and make up your own mind. I’ll certainly be keeping an eye to see how this one goes.

Little Brother is watching back!


February 10, 2009

The Ministerial Excuse Machine

I’d like to introduce everyone to my latest invention – The Ministerial Excuse Machine. As we are staring down a collapsing Labour government, and the very real possibility of a Tory one to follow, the MEM is necessary as never before. This marvellous machine takes stories which could make government ministers feel uncomfortable, and puts understandable, even positive, spins in them. Please remember the MEM is not yet completely ready for widespread use, and may contain some teething problems.

The Ministerial Excuse Machine is non-party aligned, and will generate stories for ministers whether completely useless or outright lying bastards. This means it is approved for both Labour and Tory use, respectively.

The Ministerial Excuse Machine vs Jacqui Smith’s multiple houses

The MEM has issued the following statement.

In light of the recent occupation of Harriet Harmperson’s roof by Fathers 4 Justice we are pleased to announce that Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has taken proactive steps to avoid this sort of protest from disrupting her as she works to make life better in this country.

By claiming expenses for a second house whilst living with her sister, Smith has bamboozled the Fathers 4 Justice protestors, and their fetching spandex superhero suits, by offering herself the choice of being in two different places. This method, known as Schroedinger’s Minister, will ensure that where ever Smith is, she is not being disturbed by protestors of any hue, and can therefore operate more efficiently, and in a more value for money style, than if she were being constantly distracted by 40 something men dressed as Batman.

We wish Jacqui Smith all the best in the future, where ever she may be.

Mmm, the MEM needs some work, but is clearly a useful invention with which I shall make my fortune.


February 08, 2009

Jo Brand Vs The BNP

Writing about web page http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1133142/New-BBC-taste-row-police-probe-Jonathan-Ross-stand-Jo-Brands-anti-BNP-joke.html

I think it’s a terrible shame Jo Brand isn’t held in slightly higher regard in this country. Perhaps she upset too many people years ago by being too overtly feminist (cos, y’know, feminists are, like, well scary) but she doesn’t get the credit she often deserves for creating great jokes.

Her latest escapade appears to have created an odd situation. She’s managed to upset the BNP. This isn’t very odd in itself, upsetting the BNP can often be done using very simple methods, like producing melanin in large amounts, or being a bit foreign. But apparently she upset them on ‘Live At The Apollo’ by making the not particularly hilarious gag by her standards of implying that the publication of their membership list meant she knew who to post poo to.

This has been pounced on by the BNP who are accusing her of inciting a racist act.

What?

Huh?

Eh?

Yup, this is what the Daily Mail said:

The following day [after the show’s broadcast], Simon Darby, the BNP’s deputy leader, made an official complaint to Hammersmith police alleging that Brand’s comment had been an act of incitement to cause racial harassment… ‘The BNP is technically an ethnic group and, under Section 26 of the Race Relations Act, we would suggest there are grounds that an offence of incitement to commit racial harassment has been committed.’

This is confusing. The BNP are a racial group? Really? How on earth does that work? Does voting BNP come as part of a specific genetic package, like black people of African origin are more likely to have sickle cell anaemia, or oriental people are more prone to lactose intolerance, or Celts are more susceptible to sun burn on cloudy days? Are WASPs more likely to vote BNP because they are WASPs (not to be confused with wasps who don’t vote because they are usually disrupting picnics on election day).

After claiming they’d be using the Human Rights Act (which they oppose because they are anti-EU) to try and suppress the list, they are now claiming that they constitute a separate ethnic group. It’s a joke right? It’s a big dose of satire, so big that they’ve even roped in premier satirists like Jo Brand. Is this what Chris Morris has been up to recently?

Because surely having a political party for one ethnic group only is a bit, y’know, racist?

Oh.


November 05, 2008

How Times Change

And although it seems heaven sent
We ain’t ready, to see a black President
2pac – ‘Changes’
Recorded c.1995-6.

How times change. For the better, natch.


October 08, 2008

Is There Ever A Bad Time To Crave Power?

I’m beginning to wonder if there is one person above all others who could benefit from Barack Obama winning the US presidency – John McCain.

Seems counterintuitive, but bear with me. I’m not going to pretend I understand fully the ins and outs of the ‘credit crunch’, and the complex economic systems which have propped it up,* but that’s not important here as most people don’t understand these complex ins and outs either. In fact most people take a very simplified view on these things, especially as economics is not a sexy or exciting subject. At least the complexities of the war on terror can be sold to a public which watches James Bond, ‘Spooks’ and other unrealistic but engaging shows. There’s no high octane US shows about a banker having 24 hours to save his bank from speculators.

So as far as most people are concerned the ‘credit crunch’ is a problem being caused by greedy bankers (Cockney rhyming slang as well as literal) and not mopped up properly by the government. As far as the government goes it’s damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t. Do nothing, everything goes bad, government looks bad for doing nothing. Do something, spend lots of money, public complains about its money being spent on bankers (Cockney rhyming slang only). So the government will spend and be damned, but can offer olive branches by cracking down on the banks, increasing regulation, kicking big business in the nads in order to appeal to the people. Then it’ll tax them more to pay for everything. So that’s restrict the free market and tax more when people want to be taxed less and public services are already crap? Wow, sell that as a Republican!

McCain could win power in November but it’s hard to see what he can do in the current climate. Sticking to his GOP roots will see him tremendously unpopular as he doesn’t tackle the very thing people are blaming for the crisis. Do what might well need to be done and he looks unRepublican. A liar or a coward. Either way he is, essentially, screwed. But if he loses to Obama (who as a Democrat has slightly more scope to operate, though he best not appear too lefty or everyone will call him a communist) then he goes down in history as a loser but not a traitor or sell out.

On this side of the Pond we’re heading for a certain Tory government but with a similar problem. The front of Private Eye today was marvellous:

What is Cameron going to do? His claims of cutting bureaucracy and red tape sound appealing but in reality amount to job losses, i.e. unemployment at a time everyone’s worried about unemployment rising. He can’t raise taxes without looking hypocritical after attacking Brown for it all these years. And he will have to make the same increased regulation measures which the US looks like it’ll have to introduce, for market confidence if nothing else. But that amounts to the Tories bringing in degrees of nationalisation and government control (red tape) which is rather against everything they’ve ever stood for. Much of the ‘New Tory’ attitude of Cameron’s is in increased social liberalism** not in moving to the Left economically. Hell, New Labour’s been hurtling away from the economic Left since 1994, why should the Tories move in there if even the Lib Dems haven’t decided to fight on that ground?

The worst thing for all parties is it might well turn out that a period, possibly permanent, of economic Leftiness is needed. Labour retreating back on itself is not a terminal blow to the party as it never really lost its Left, merely ignored it (no reshuffle home for Cruddas). The climbdown for the Lib Dems would be pretty bad but cushioned by the fact that no one knows what they really stand for. The Tories would be engulfed by a massive identity crisis.

The fear is what does a Tory government that cannot flex economic muscles do to show it is different? Expect law and order crackdowns, and possibly moves against immigrants. But also expect nothing much beyond spin and big words. The Cameron government faces a very real danger of being the government which does not lead Britain at all, merely gets buffeted in the wind whilst introducing the occasional populist but short sighted social or crime policy. There are no grand gestures it can make. Labour will claim any credit for the Olympics and the Tories foot the bill.

Personally, I wouldn’t want to be a politician anywhere right about now.

*If anyone can explain derivatives to me in a way which doesn’t make it seem like the biggest load of bollocks of all time then I shall make them a cheesy crepe.
**Although Cameron himself opposed removing Section 28, for instance.


July 17, 2008

A Thought On The Iron Lady's State Funeral

My policies are based not on some economics theory, but on things I and millions like me were brought up with: an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay; live within your means; put by a nest egg for a rainy day; pay your bills on time; support the police.

Margaret Thatcher, 1981, News Of The World interview.

I came to office with one deliberate intent: to change Britain from a dependent to a self-reliant society — from a give-it-to-me, to a do-it-yourself nation. A get-up-and-go, instead of a sit-back-and-wait-for-it Britain.

Thatcher, 1984, speech to Small Business Bureau Conference.

Margaret Thatcher, doyen of the self made person, believer that the state should have as little to do with the lives of individuals as possible, advocate of privatisation… and a state funeral? Paid for by the masses and arranged, organised and promoted by the state itself? Not from her own purse.

Does this not sound like it completely contradicts everything she stood for? She should stick to her principles (“The lady’s not for turning”, anyone?) and refuse the offer. But then again, raging economic rightwingers who proclaim they detest the welfare state are always amongst the happiest to take any financial hand out the state is willing to give.

It’s hypocrisy exposition week here all right.


July 15, 2008

The Christian Registrar

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/7499248.stm

I know this is a week after the event, but I’ve finally worked out what it is that bothers me most about the ruling that Christian registrar Lillian Ladele was discriminated against for refusing to officiate civil partnerships. Leaving aside any of the accusations of bullying (I haven’t read the details of that particularly closely so she may well have been a victim of that) the part of the case which bothered me was the way she refused to conduct the partnerships.

Obviously she was not the only registrar at the office, so the smooth progress of CPs was not infringed as other registrars were willing to conduct them. The case came to light after internal issues arose, not because she refused a couple outright. If anything the case is a moral and political one, rather than one which focuses on any single incident.

I’ve been to enough non-religious weddings to know what they are like and the main difference is that God cannot be brought into it. At all. No hymns, no readings which mention God, nothing religious from any religion can be incorporated. Which is fine, I am all for secularism and having systems which exist without religious intervention. But what this means, surely, is that Ladele has been conducting these utterly religion devoid weddings for years in her role as a registrar, in addition to registering religious ceremonies of all faiths?

Ladele has been a registrar for a while according to the BBC article, and some have argued that it’s not fair to expect her to conduct CPs when she didn’t sign up for a job which entailed doing them, as they didn’t exist when she began and her faith might have precluded her from taking the job had this been the case. But she would have had to preside over secular weddings and registering Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, etc weddings. And this is the problem I see in this case – is she not also breaking God’s commandments (as she sees them) by doing so? If there is only one true faith, as she advocates, and that is the Christian one which frowns on homosexuality, then what about such Bible passages as Mark 10:9 “Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” which seems to indicate that weddings are to be conducted by God, via a priest? This surely rules secular weddings out as there’s no God whatsoever involved. Or the myriad of passages about false gods and the like, which Christians see as condemning other faiths? Homosexuality received a few admonishments in the Bible, but there’s also a hell of a lot (pardon the phrasing) regarding marriage and its need to be blessed by God in a Christian context.

We’ve no idea if Ladele avoided secular weddings or registering non-Christian religious ones, but if these were duties she carried out then surely there’s a tangible stink of hypocrisy in this case? Why would a Christian be willing to facilitate some living in sin but not others? If she didn’t do these non-Christian duties then why didn’t she speak out about this. Sure, it wouldn’t absolve her of homophobia, but at least it would be consistent.

This isn’t intended as an attack on Christians, or even on Ms Ladele, I just find this problematic in trying to understand the case. The bullying element is another matter which I’m not discussing here. This is purely about what seems to me to be an inconsistent application of the Bible.

But then again if Christians did apply it consistently it’d need a Ned Flanders level of dedication, even to “the bits which contradict the other bits”. Whatever happened to the bloke who said “love one another” then got nailed to a cross?


May 05, 2008

Capital Auditions

Attention all major cities in Britain!

We, the citizens of Britain would like to alert all the major cities, or indeed cities with aspirations to be major, that there is likely in the next couple of years for there to become a vacancy in the position of capital city of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, Northern Ireland and a few scattered little islands with strange folks and strange laws. This is likely to come about after the residents of the incumbent capital city, ‘London’, managed to choose a leader the rest of the country was well aware is a bumbling fool who, current predictions are indicating, is probably going to crash the damn thing into Reading sometime around October, causing untold damage.


London and Reading not to scale. Obviously.

Frankly we are not the sort of country which wishes to led by a complete laughing stock. We’ve already tried that with Colchester* and it just didn’t work. So we have decided to notify all the other cities that the vacancy is soon available. This is in order to prepare applications as we are aware most people in this nation weren’t expecting Londoners to be quite so careless with their votes.

Cities considering applying should be aware of the following conditions:

- The city in question requires a Premiership football team. A capital city with no club in the top division is a capital city of no concept of the nation’s main religion and therefore will not be sufficiently in touch with the people. Also the only major footballing nation which looks like it might be without a capital rep in the top flight next season is France.
- The city in question must have culture. It doesn’t have to be a capital of culture, just have some culture. Obviously having good bands originating from the city would be useful, ideally influential, successful, lasting ones, although they don’t have to be the Beatles. The city could also benefit from having a soap opera set there, although it really shouldn’t be Brookside. In other words, don’t get cocky about this, Liverpool.
- The city in question must be able to prove it is sufficiently pleasant to live in and not too overpriced. We think this is what caused the problems with the last one. Nice buildings will be viewed favourably. Insisting you’re planning to build them at some stage is not enough on its own, and no, before you ask, the Bullring is not enough on its own to count. Birmingham must try harder.
- Gun crime levels must be convincingly high for wannabe gangstas but sufficiently low to deflect potential tourists. Nottingham should be aware this isn’t specifically aimed at it, although let’s face it, it is. Manchester must not get complacent.
- Cities with a tendency to vote BNP are out.
- Cities with a tendency to vote on X Factor will have to justify themselves with a selection of bohemian shops and boutiques. Cultural homogenisation will not be tolerated.
- No city where the predominant food-base is pure pie will be considered. Sorry, we know this is harsh, but as our advisor Joe Shephard has pointed out, pies are extremely tasty and fattening so will reduce productivity. You cannot work and go “nom nom nom” at the same time, no matter how often you practise.

Applicants are invited to send their CVs and a covering letter to the usual address (‘Blue Peter’) and we will be interviewing later. Please be available on the weekend of the V Festival. Yes, we know this rules out Chelmsford and Stafford, but it’s not really a shock that neither really stand a chance.

kthnxbye

*Historically speaking Colchester sucked at ruling Britain, the tribes just squabbled and then the Romans boshed the lot of them. Colchester, you sucked!


April 21, 2008

London, Not The World

Firstly, this is not a dig at recent entries on WB. I know a lot of Warwick students and graduates are Londoners and so are really quite within their rights to talk about the mayoral elections. Hell, it’s good to see they are! This is more a general query about the media’s response to the London mayoral elections.

Firstly London is a fairly major part of the country. It’s got somewhere around 15% of the total population of the United Kingdom, and has most of the big jobs, major institutions and media. But it’s not everything. Not that you’d know from the media, of course. When even my copy of the Free Northern Centre Left Subtle Propaganda Sheet (or the Manchester Evening News as it’s better known) contains more on the bloody London mayoral elections than it does on the council elections in my city*, then I know there’s something going on.

But what is it?

Realistically there’s one of two things going on. Either the media is completely obsessed with London to a degree which is narcissistic and unhelpful, or London really does represent a litmus test and a microcosm of the rest of the nation. Or possibly something between the two. But to take that third option would be a balanced, subtle and nuanced essay, and I’m more in the mood to write a rant.

To be honest ranting about the media’s Londoncentric nature is easy, predictable and has been done before. But can a convincing case be made for London being a litmus test for the rest of the country? On the surface it must be possible. Die hard Tory and Labour areas must exist side-by-side, like the virtually Tory free zone of Manchester (which I think has a single Conservative councillor, a recent defector) and the “no commies here” stretches of Cheshire where voting Lib Dem will still have some locals wondering if you’re a spy from Moscow. I can think of Kensington for the Cheshire set (with nearly as many oversized off road vehicles… in Cheshire) and the multicultural working class/lower middle class areas for the Manchester/Liverpool comparisons. Except obviously the north has more European Cups.

But does the comparison really bare out? Can you use a London mayoral election, a very much personality influenced debate, to predict the rest of the country’s political inclinations and thereby justify the stifling amount of coverage? London has no independence movements which instantly makes the likes of the SNP and Plaid Cymru unrepresented. Also there is, as far as a I know, nothing comparable to the madness of Northern Irish politics where a bunch of murderers, a minister stuck in the 1750s yelling “no” at everyone, and some exasperated middle ground occupiers make up the political landscape. Maybe we could combine the Kray twins (not dead in this version), that nutjob with the hooks and the West Ham Utd fan club to recreate it? Or is that unfair on NI?

A lot of concerns of Londoners don’t register outside of the M25. Whilst the denizens fret over whether or not there’ll be some bendy buses or traditional Routemasters taking them places, in a lot of the country the very idea of a bus is laughable. Oyster cards aren’t that exciting a thought when you’re stuck in Northwich town centre because there’s no way to get back to the stupid little village you actually live in and it’s only 10.30pm. Likewise your concerns about the Olympics are a little less concerning to, say, Manchester which put the Commonwealth games together with considerably less fuss, despite having considerably fewer Polish builders to get the job done!

But if the mayoral elections get treated as a sign for the rest of the country by enough people (in the media) does that make them a sign? A self fulfilling prophecy? Does the sheer force of the media’s will make what happens in London matter in Loughborough? Can events in Pimlico be relevant in Plymouth? Does Stratford mirror Stratford… or Stretford… or Stafford?

I don’t think the answer is to ignore London, obviously. But it’s really not the world, it isn’t even most of this country. The media needs to calm down a little and realise some people aren’t even aware of elections in their, non London, locality, before gobbing off about who’s a better choice out of a tired old Bolshy, a preposterous Tory and that Lib Dem who no one will vote for because they don’t understand the voting system.

I wouldn’t expect someone in Ipsrwich to be as upset about the death of Gwyneth Dunwoody MP as many round here were. Maybe I’d expect them read she’d gone and maybe a bit about her life, but not days of articles. Not that she got that. She was MP for Crewe and Nantwich, after all. Neither of those is in London.

*Seriously. I don’t even know who’s running in my ward except that the Tories stand no chance so it’s Lab vs Lib… like everywhere in Manchester.


December 22, 2007

St Tony?

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7157409.stm

The inevitable has now happened. Tony Blair has swapped High Anglicanism for Catholicism, the religious equivalent of swapping a 1996 Ford Fiesta for a 1994 Ford Fiesta (with a Virgin Mary on the dashboard). No big surprise, it’s been a long time coming, and should have happened years ago.

Now I’m no big fan of Blair’s messianic complex and apparent belief that he would be judged for his actions by God rather than, say, the electorate. As far as I know God doesn’t vote, the lazy deity.* It also scares me slightly when nukes get into the hands of someone who believes in an afterlife. Nice enough if they’re right and when we’re all nuked we can live on, but if they’re wrong then those nukes are rather a problem… but that’s a different debate. Blair should have converted to Catholicism in office. He should have been feeling as guilty as he damn well chose (although his apparent lack of guilt strikes me as odd for a so-called Catholic) or have=ing as many fancy statues in his church as he wanted. But he didn’t. And I wonder why.

Clearly he has always had some Catholic sympathies, but why only convert after leaving office? There’s no limit on Catholics in Downing Street, unlike in Buckingham Palace. It may well be that this was the best time for him to convert, but what if it wasn’t, what if it was a political decision to delay until leaving office. He was attending Catholic communion at the start of this decade (although as has been pointed out, Cherie is Catholic (Scouse, natch) so presumably would be insisting the kids were raised Catholic in line with Roman teaching). Strangely it might have worked to his advantage to be honest sooner. Britons seem to distrust overt religion much of the time** but people in Britain (I exclude NI for obvious reasons) find Catholicism a hell of a lot less scary than the sort of born-again millenarian Protestantism that George W Bush extolled.

Maybe that’s why Blair delayed. Born agains often don’t like Catholics. Maybe his political move was not to avoid the wrath of the British electorate, but to stay onside with Dubya. But he’s still working on Dubya’s mess in the Middle East, and they seem to have stayed best mates, so that theory doesn’t make much sense either.

I wish Blair had done this sooner for the following reasons:
- Suspicion over the timing will persist even if, as is still likely, it was just that now is the right time for him to convert.
- He would have spent more time as a Catholic, thus could have accumulated more of that lovely Catholic guilt (it’s real). Maybe then he’d have lied less or been less manipulative over Iraq.
- It would have annoyed Ian Paisley. Anything which does this must be a good thing.

Does this mean Blair’s a Celtic fan? Wonder what he thought of the Champions’ League draw…

*Plus, considering how much God flip-flops from vengeful deity to sweet and forgiving depending on the people’s views, I suspect he/she/it would vote Lib Dem. * * *
**I guess that’s what happens when the state religion is Anglicanism.
  • * *Yes, even after Clegg said he didn’t believe!

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