All 37 entries tagged Politics And Other Things No One Cares About

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November 26, 2007

Saudi Stupidity

Writing about web page

A couple of weeks back there was press (and beyond) outrage that a Saudi woman had apparently been sentenced to be lashed for being the victim of a gang rape. That’s right – the victim. Saudi Arabia got annoyed with all the international condemnation and has today released a statement saying the woman in question was actually having an affair outside of marriage with the man she was caught with and that the international outcry was therefore rendered ridiculous as she was lying.

Someone really ought to point out to the Saudis that in the civilised world we don’t whip people for having extra-marital affairs either, and that their attempts to ameliorate their actions by claiming a different ‘crime’ was committed (who knows the truth behind the case) merely make them look stupid and backward, rather than heartless, stupid and backward.

This is why I try not to read too much about Saudi Arabia. From what I have read I find it unbelievable they are considered an ally of the West when they are so utterly authoritarian and medieval. But of course they want to give us their oil. and that’s what matters really, isn’t it?

The world annoys me today.

October 03, 2007

Runes, Rain and Re–Election

Quick, check the runes! Get those chicken entrails out! Consult Mad Doris who lives in a bucket under the Coventry ringroad! She’s a witch y’know…

Yes, I was most amused the other day to hear the, possibly untrue but entertaining, lengths the government are going to in their agonising debate about whether to have fun and games at the polling booth this year. Apparently they are currently poring over that most essential of political tools, the weather charts. Ok, it’s not quite as fun as the runes, entrails or Mad Doris, but I found it amusing. The British encapsulated, our sacred democracy ((c) any spod since the Magna Carta who wants to feel patriotic and powerful at the same time) at the mercy of our more pressing obsessions with the weather.

Perhaps I am too flippant. It must be said an election in November is risky business. Timing it to avoid half term means having it later on in a month renowned for its combination of all the worst bits of autumn (wind, slippy leaf mush everywhere) and winter (cold) without any of the good bits (golden trees, snow). It’ll also be dark. So one bad bout of rain on election day and voter turnout plummets, something which always benefits the opposition as they will be more determined to push through the snow and rid us a government who have improved things for many many more people than the Tories would have done.

Sorry, was that a bit too biased. This ain’t a pro-Labour blog, but at the moment it’s certainly more likely to vote Labour than anyone else. Weather permitting.

In any case, this is not really about politics. It’s about the hilarity of how we are hostage to other forces sometimes. And by sometimes I mean most of the time. If the weather could run in an election it would almost certainly get the most coverage in the media (despite impartiality rules) although it’s no guarantee it would get elected. In fact, after this year it would probably lose the biggest landslide in history, possibly to more popular occurences like Bluetonge, Jeremy Kyle, or the apocalypse. Labour had best beware not to ally themselves too closely to the weather. They should use it until its use is over then discard it heartlessly.

Kind of like the electorate.


July 01, 2007

Bishops Say The Funniest Things

Writing about web page

Don’t know if anyone remembers a couple of years back during the Hurricane Katrina disaster that Pat Robertson (the man who said feminism was a “socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians”) supposedly claimed the reason for the devastating hurricane was that New Orleans native and practising homosexualist Ellen DeGeneres was presenting the Emmys? Oh how we laughed at the crazy American, and conforted ourselves that it couldn’t happen here. We laughed a little less when it turned out to be made up by a website but then laughed again when we thought about it and concluded that the fact we had believed such ridiculousness reflected more on Robertson than on us.

And then we thought no more about it. That was our first mistake.

Now Pat Robertson is a minority figure, a voice only loud as the media seem to delight in hearing his ridiculous rants. Graham Dow is not a minority figure. He’s the bishop of Carlisle. And he thinks the flooding which is currently ravaging parts of England is retribution from God for gay rights.

No seriously, he does.

The fact God has waited rather a while to let this flooding come through seems to suggest a flaw in his logic. Also, note how God has managed to send the floods to places which, unlike London, don’t have a Gay Pride event this weekend. God can’t be that pissed off at gays if he’s letting them have a nice day out without those floats being rather literally named.

In fact let’s look at some other logic. There’s not much in the way of flooding here at Warwick University and the surrounding area, despite a recent history of massive flooding in Leamington cutting the town in half. There’s not been too much reported flooding by the large reservoir near Edgbaston in Birmingham. There’s not been too much flooding, or indeed any at all in Cheshire. And what do those saved places have in common? Members of the presigious (ish) Cruise family live in those parts. God, is blatantly punishing people who are not my immediate family! Die, non-Cruise heathens! Or rather, get wet shoes, non-Cruise heathens!

Sounds silly? It is silly. And so’s the bishop’s statement. But at least in this article I’ve not managed to drop a howler of such complete stupidity you wonder if having no self awareness is a requirement of bishops. Graham Dow said:

In the Bible, institutional power is referred to as ‘the beast’, which sets itself up to control people and their morals. Our government has been playing the role of God in saying that people are free to act as they want.

Right. Is that like how the Church sets itself up to control people and morals, maybe by telling them not to be gay and that if they are then there’ll be waves?

Rowan Williams, you have my sympathy if this is what you have to work with.

June 15, 2007

Voices Of Palestinians – A Small Sample

I have been watching BBC News 24 a lot recently, mostly because at certain times of the day it’s the least inane thing that can be accessed, and yes I am including various online tower defence games which have also been stealing my time.*

The current crap in Palestine has necessitated talking heads to fuel the 24 hour news binge and in the last couple of days I’ve seen two which struck me for the contrast. I cannot remember names, which is unfortunate as I would like know more about both talknig heads. What I do know was the first one I saw was a female academic who might not even have been Palestinian, but was certainly from the Middle East and was able to be in the BBC’s London studio. The other was a high ranking Hamas spokesman based out of Beirut and broadcasting from there.

The contrast which intrigued me was how they discussed the situation. Both were posed similar questions, although obvious the Hamas guy was the recipient of some more pressure over Hamas’s motivations and involvement. But it surprised me to hear one of the two talking about Palestinian politics and the need for stability without once mentioning the “I” word, whilst the other seemed addicted the it, mentioning it seemingly every third word.

The “I” word could only be Israel.

Now this is not the place for me to comment on the whys and hows of the Palestinian infighting. Chances are it is in part due to Palestine’s relationship with Israel, they are neighbours and heavily interlinked, although one could argue that the Palestinians had previously managed to avoid civil war whilst under Israeli pressure for some time so what is Israel’s influence? That’s rhetorical by the way. Half the internet seems to be an argument on Israel and Palestine (the other half is Paris Hilton).

But it was fascinating watching this academic (for it was she) taking every opportunity to implicate Israel more than the Palestinian factions themselves. It was more fascinating to see the Hamas guy not mention Israel once, not even in a broad hint (though they might have warranted a veiled mention too subtle for me to notice). Neither are true insiders, both being based outside the Gaza strip. But the one with the slightly better claim to proximity was the one who chose to overlook the Israelis.

The BBC stands accused by both sides in the dispute of being pro the other side. Look at the wikipedia discussions on the BBC to see how both accuse the other of being biased. I never find the BBC News questioning as probing as Channel 4’s, but I did wince slightly as the academic went on about Israel. It felt like she had a blatant agenda rather than a useful insight, whether or not she did. ‘Overegging the pudding’ doesn’t come close. I wanted the BBC reporter to press her on this, but he didn’t. Nor was the Hamas guy pressed too hard, although he got a slightly tougher line of questions, and yet didn’t break out into the same rhetoric. Honestly, I’d have expected it to be the other way around. It certainly makes me wonder what it is that has caused these Palestinian problems. Whilst no one seems to actually have a solution, it’s certainly not the case that the obvious option (blame Israel completely) is being taken by all.

And that’s a good thing surely? Let’s just hope they sort things out soon. The Palestinian people don’t deserve this crap.

*I’m not linking to them. You won’t get any work done either.

June 01, 2007

Nationalism Is A Bit Gay

Writing about web page

No, it really is! Nationalism is gay gay gay. At least, Sinn Fein nationalism is, with the rather confusing sight of Martin McGuinness fulfilling a genuinely agreeable position by condemning Ian Paisley Jr for being a little bit homophobic. Alright, technically IPJr said he was “repulsed” by homosexuality, not that gays should be thrown into the sea, or worse in the Vatican. But it really doesn’t work well, in a country trying to move away from problems caused by entrenched and slightly backwards ideas about religion, to have a major political figure (or the son of one) being a bit bigoted. And it is only a bit bigoted as when Paisleys in NI get a very bigoted it tends to lead to attempts to curb civil rights and stuff like that.

So yes, Sinn Fein are trying to resolve this using dialogue and gentle disapproval in the form of words. It’s a sign of progress, even if it is a little weird to be able to cheer on something SF are doing without any annoying conflicting factors like sectarianism or being associated with terrorists to taint things. So when are we going to see the giant Nationalist murals depicting Elton John and Rhona Cameron? It’d give the locals something to argue over – which gay is best for NI’s walls?

The only downside to all this is that IPJr appears to be as much of a twat as his father. Damn.

May 23, 2007

The Solution To All Your Labour Problems

Follow-up to The Solution To All Your Papal Problems from Hollyzone

I didn’t go and see Gordon Brown at the Arts Centre on Sunday, I was too busy sleeping uncomfortably whilst cursing the underfunded NHS physio service which meant my shoulder problem hadn’t been fixed making it hard to sleep that night. Rarrr. But I should have gone. Not just because some nice people tipped me off and I felt like not going was in some way similar to saying “Yes, I’ll come to your massive party” then not showing up. But mostly because I’ve come to another massive conclusion. Basically I don’t dislike Gordon Brown, and he might do an ok job (albeit in the same manner as a child who has to somehow create a picture in class after their class partner has vomited all over what was a fairly nice, if unfinished, picture) but I honestly think there’s a better candidate for the job of Labour leader and PM.


Yes, having already declared myself Pope, I am willing to drop the endless rounds of candles, hymns and Bono, to attend to the more pressing problem of running the United Kingdom of Alright-In-A-Funny-Sort-Of-Way Britain and Norn Iron. Yes, three of my grandparents, and one parent, were born in what is now a completely independent nationstate. Yes, I have no popular mandate, have never been elected (in fact have been actively not elected on occasion), and ain’t even a member of the Labour party. Yes, I did once express the opinion that, once in power, my first act would probably be to deport the owner and editor of the Daily Mail, either to Paris or Basra. And yes, I do love Girls Aloud. But since when has any of that been a problem?

This country lacks a risk taking spine. I’m not asking for a revolution because we’re shit at those. I’m asking for you to put the lives, loves and taxes of 60million people in the hands of a complete amateur whose better qualities include the ability to locate her possession despite how messy her room is, and an impressive CD collection. I also have nice hair, although it needs a bit of a cut as there are split ends (I can’t see them but they must be there).

So what will I do once in power? Well, I’ve not had time to plan a proper manifesto, but neither has Gordon Brown by the looks of things, and he gets six weeks or whatever to wander round the nation asking people what they think so he knows exactly how badly Blair shat on people, and how many expectations he has to disappoint. So here are my badly thought out plans:

  • More money to NHS physios until my shoulder is fixed. Start with issues which are close to your heart. In this case, the issue is about 25cm from my heart.
  • More money for battery recycling. They do it abroad, and it removes that really sodding annoying dilemma of what to do with dead batteries when it says on the damn things themselves not to put them in the bin but offers no good alternative.
  • Put a halt on these stupid live music laws. We need to make live music easier to access not harder. Except for Jet. They will be deported back to Australia. Sorry Oz.
  • Less money to the Royal Family. Get a job! They’re worse than a room full of chavs, sitting round in their bling, not doing anything. This will require come cooperation from the public, it must be offputting for them to be mocked constantly when they try to get real jobs. Be nice. The Queen is exempt as she was quite good playing Helen Mirren in that film.
  • No more top up fees and stuff. Graduate tax. To be applied to all graduates, no matter when they graduated. Ooooooh, it’s almost a serious policy.
  • Tag David Cameron. Just for a laugh.
  • Tag David Cameron on Facebook. Just for a laugh.
  • Tag David Blunkett on Facebook. Bad photos. It’s not like he’s going to see them.
  • Legalise the mocking of the disabled in cases of them being sanctimonious ex-government ministers. This is in no way arse covering for other government policies, and is definitely, 100% in the public’s interest.

I’ve not thought much else through, although I like the idea of putting Cerys Matthews, Alistair MacGowan, Ricky Gervais and the cast of Doctor Who in the cabinet, if only so we can keep an eye on them.

So yeah, that’s it. Um, vote for me I guess.

May 22, 2007

Acid Rain

Whatever happened to acid rain? No seriously, what happened there? I can’t be the only person who, as a child, was bombarded with tales of doom concerning this deadly sounding substance falling from the sky and melting Lincoln Cathedral (which I didn’t live anywhere near and have never visited, but for some reason it, and it’s imp, are stuck in my head as being part of the acid rain story). Just hearing about it for the first time was enough to stop an entire class full of children from running around trying to collect as much rain water as they could in their mouths – it was the northwest of England, they made us play outside in anything barring the heaviest downpours.

Now this was the time of the Rio summit, a time when global warming and the like was trendy, was cool, wasn’t being caused by widescreen plasma TVs on standby, office computers left on overnight, or China. Nope, back then it was caused by cathode ray TVs left on standby, CFC filled fridges, or America. To be fair the latter is still largely to blame now. We’re talking early 1990s, and acid rain was going to melt our heritage and our faces.

Which is why I cannot work out where it’s gone.

Now this isn’t a climate change denial train of thought. I’ve seen the difference the last 15 years has made, and the weather ain’t what it used to be. Obviously for the deathly pale like me this has meant increased suntan lotion costs (and duck me (quack), have you seen how expensive it is?!) but it’s definitely noticeable. You can get as many as three whole days of sunshine in the northwest of England, which leads me to suspect the next generation might not be so blase about getting rained on solidly for 50 minutes whilst their teachers sit indoors, laughing.

But nowadays, as I, ahem, I mean, we obsessively turn everything off after use, there’s no fear of anything being melted. Stonehenge, Big Ben, Lincoln Cathderal, they are all safe and secure (hopefully, unless the Cutty Sark was merely the first of many historical objects to be targetted by a mad anti-history arsonist). This leads to the following possibilities:

1) We beat acid rain. It’s safe to play ‘collect as much water as you can in your mouth at break time’ again. But this does not address how we did this. I’d like to know, if only so I can feel good about the human ability to, sometimes, not break everything they are given to play with.

2) We didn’t beat acid rain, it’s still there but we’ve lost interest because we all care more about Jose Mourinho’s dog. Or worse, we beat it here but it’s still in foreign places which means the British media won’t care until it melts a British consulate or something. This would be depressing.

3) It never existed in the first place. It’s not completely unlikely.

I’m not a scientist. Maybe a scientist can tell me. Maybe they don’t know either. Maybe I’ll never go to Lincoln. Oh well…

March 06, 2007

Lies Lies Lies?

Writing about web page

Are things in politics always inevitable? Will those pesky politicians always lie? “Liar”, one of the things you’re not actually allowed to call a fellow MP in the Commons, yet everyone else uses so much in relation to pretty much every party except possibly the DUP (and to be honest they don’t need to lie, just shout).

Some idealistic types have decided they want to get a bill passed into law to stop politicians lying. Yes, they essentially want to change everything about politics in this country and usher in a brave new era of honesty. It’s hard to shake the faint sense that they might be mad, but then again a lot of things we take for granted today were mad ideas when introduced (women voting, the NHS, ‘Deal Or No Deal’). They’ve got themselves a nifty logo, a slightly sinister name and a website full of big aims.

Now as nice an idea it is, is there any chance it will work? The website doesn’t help itself in some ways. By linking to such mildly hysterical other political sites as Ian Dale, and the frankly barmy BBC Watch, they are aligning themselves to a slightly rightist position. Yet you’d have thought Tories would be the last people to want a bill forcing honesty out of them. For a start imagine Cameron’s face when, being forced the tell the truth, someone asks him what the hell he actually plans on doing if he gets power. I’d pay to see that. It could be funny for left, right and centre. No one would be safe. It would be interesting and nice but feasible? I am not sure.

The first problem is that to pass a law which restricts and harms politicians you need to get it through partliament via… politicians. Damn. But to be the one to put it through could make someone. They’d instantly have a kudos and reputation that might require some major league scandal to shift it. Hell, it might not even matter if they are caught with their trousers down in a room full of prostitutes, cocaine, badgers and rent boys, as long as they stay honest about what they were doing there. I digress. Possible but likey? Maybe this is why they are the idealilsts and I’m a cynical twat.

But maybe just maybe if enough people wanted it some MP might risk putting it forward. I don’t know. Have a look and see what you think. Is this the maddest idea of all time or might it actually work?

January 28, 2007

Movement In NI?

Writing about web page

Well well well, Sinn Fein have decided to back the Police Service of Northern Ireland, a move which was predicted but whose implications throw up some interesting possibilities.

The Republican objection to the police is longstanding and understandable. Bloody Sunday was merely the worst of the various incidents which turned the Catholic population from mild suspicion to outright hatred and distrust. It didn’t help that members of the then RUC colluded with loyalist terrorists to kill Catholics who were a nuisance. Whilst some were Republican terrorists themselves, some were people who merely annoyed the loyalists, like the lawyer Pat Finucane whose representation of IRA suspects in court earnt him an assassination in front of his wife and children. The response of the IRA to such incidents was to shoot police officers which bred a vicious cycle. My mum’s cousin was a Catholic RUC member who was shot whilst out on patrol one day in Northern Ireland. He survived but the officer he was with was killed.

But the change of heart by Sinn Fein comes admist reform and change. the question now is whether there will be some reprisals from Republicans beyond the shouting of “Traitor!” at Adams, and whether the DUP will return to powersharing. Ian Paisley has no doubt been dreading this moment. Since the second ceasefire in the 1990s Sinn Fein and the associated members of the Provisional IRA have been moving closer and closer to being a cooperative, legitimate party. Though not always inevitable, once the Good Friday Agreement was signed this was always a highly likely outcome. Hotheaded young radicals might like to weild guns and shout slogans, but when they grow up and realise they can make more difference (and get arrested less) in politics then they shift to more peaceful means. The electoral success Sinn Fein have seen since the IRA publically renounced violence has only fuelled their push to democracy. The PSNI move is designed to get more SDLP voters, and get more political power. In itself this isn’t a bad thing to most reasonable people – better to have the dissenters shouting rather than shooting?

So this becomes a test for Paisley. If his objections to Sinn Fein have always been about protecting the Protestants from harm, about maintaining law and order then he should come back to the table and talk. He should get the power sharing assembly working. Surely with the passing of his big objection over Sinn Fein and the PSNI should signal reproachment. Maybe it will. But part of me suspects it won’t, that a new excuse could be found. I’ve never truly believed that Paisley’s stance wasn’t tainted by racism. I won’t call it sectarianism as that has strangely acquired a position which isn’t as poorly looked upon as racism. Had a Protestant celebrity picked on a Catholic one for their faith on Big Brother we wouldn’t be having the same broo-ha-ha we have seen over the racism. Paisley has subjected Catholics and the Irish from the Republic to appalling racism over the years, and if he finds something else to object to about Sinn Fein, having banged on about their police stance for the last year or two since decommisioning, then I truly hope people will open their eyes and see him as the racist his is.

And Sinn Fein had better behave too. Just because they’ve done a ‘good thing’ for moving along the peace process doesn’t take away from the fact that they’ve done it several years later than it should have been done in the first place. Once more they come out of events looking good for doing something which is a little overdue for a political party wanting to play by the rule of law. But progress is progress and anything is better than police officers like my relative being shot in the street. Let’s see what happens.

January 16, 2007


This is the cake no one wants:

The cake is the 300th birthday cake of the signing of the Act Of Union 1707 which decreed that from that day forth the people who had previously lived in Scotland and England would have to pretend to like each other and not rape and pillage each other’s borderlands. Due the nonexistence of a proper Act Of Union with Wales, English and Welsh people are still technically allowed to rape and pillage each other’s borderlands as demonstrated by the massive spanking which London gets everytime Charlotte Church decides to visit.

The Act Of Union abolished the Scottish parliament of the time and is generally seen by historians as having been an excuse for the Scottish MPs to fanny around in London pouring scorn on thw whole place by declaring the inhabitants soft, and their city “crap” in relation to the cold, harsh climes (and indeed climbs) of Edinburgh and its hills. Naturally they couldn’t possibly live in Edinburgh when doing this as none of the London soft poofs would hear them! Thus a long tradition of Scots with something to say going to London was established.

The Act Of Union can seem at times like a massive parent who forced two children who don’t really like each other to play in the same room. This doesn’t stop the children having their own toys (read: international football and rugby teams) nor does it prevent one from bursting into tears when the other one wants to play with its North Sea oil. But as children do, over time they grew up. The stage they currently seem to be at is the mid teens age. Neither has really come to completely accept that they are related, that they’ve known each other for years and years, and that secretly they are fond of each other in that special way you can be fond of someone you’re allowed to punch occasionally. This analogy also explains why places like Stoke-on-Trent exist – they are the teenage acne which has afflicted the faces of these country siblings.

So the anniversary of the pair being put into the same playpen (thus the anniversary of the beginning of a long series of retrievals of the toys both have thrown out of the playpen over the years (cf. Scotland signing a different peace treaty with Russia)) has gone past with not too much fuss. Most of the fuss has been over whether the two will play together much longer. But it would be silly to separate them. Neither truly appreciates that the other needs it in a psychological way. The pair work well together. Sure, they bitch and fight and will never admit to liking each other in public, but that’s the point of siblings sometimes.

So no cake. No party. Everyone carries on without making a fuss or doing anything so vulgar as celebrate. But there’s no massive counter protests. No scramble to lash out on this symbolic day. Neither side appears to care. They probably don’t. No one cares about how they got their family (mostly because it involves thinking about parent sex and that is wrong). They just did. It’s very very…



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