Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Watergate Bay: Blogging Light and Summery

Like the sea breeze today. Brilliant sunshine yesterday. Rain overnight. Set fair again today.

Stephen and Doreen Laurence: Free Speech?

Over at James Cleverley's Blog a couple of days ago:

At 23:09 on Friday night Anonymous said...
I have spoken to one of Stephen Lawrence's mates... far from being the church going saint made out by the family he was part of a particularly odious inner city black gang who took particular delight in beating other rival gang members to within a minute of their life.
Those who live by the sword...

I hoped that James would remove this remark from a BNP sock puppet. Or at least ridicule it and call it to account?

He has done the latter and encouraged me to use free speech to do likewise. Thing is that much as I believe in and practice free speech I understand that this right must be balanced with other rights and responsibilities.

Free speech does not extend to defamation, it does not extend to shouting "Fire" with a view to starting a panic in a crowded place, and it certainly does not extend to inciting racially-motivated or any other violence.

The comment seemed to do all three really. It defamed Stephen Laurence and his family, it uttered words to cause panic and distress, and it suggested with its last line and ellipsis that "those who live by the sword ..." should die by the sword. Condoning and indeed encouraging killing.

I believe that goes beyond reasonable free speech rights. Anti Nazi League summary of the Laurence case is here.

Guantanamo Bay: Miliband Pops the Question

About bloody time too. Mili asks Condi "Can we have our British residents, breadwinners, family men etc back, please pretty please?"

Monday, August 06, 2007

Boris Johnson: James Cleverly Clogs the Blogs

Councillor Iain Lindley suggested that James Cleverly had got things right on the Doreen Laurence vs Boris Johnson crisis. I'm happy to post a link to the post but I must say that neither James nor Boris is half as clever as they think they are.

Dave-id Cameron looked utterly uncomfortable uttering tart nothings on Foot and Mouth. Like he knew he was losing. Like he also knew he could be having a lot more fun doing something else.

Dave-id will never be PM. Boris will never be Mayor. George will never be Chancellor. Mark my words.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

How to Refuse Gracefully: Anti-Factual

One of the Gweirdo crew has announced a new blog. It seems completely and unashamedly anti-factual and I am certainly not going to link to it.

Boris Johnson: Mayoral Application is a Shambles

Pickled Politics linked to Doreen Laurence reasonably questioning the Boris appeal to most of London's communities. But Iain Dale who will not hear a word against Boris and asks who put Doreen up to it. What a patronising so and so!

The BBC meanwhile have Diane Abbott and Dawn Butler backing Doreen up. This and this are Ken's own response to Boris' obvious lack of suitability, the latter with links including graphic proof of some of his tabloid rattling weaknesses.

Neither Doreen Laurence nor the Abbott and Butler double act have bothered to include Boris' outrageous remarks about cannibals in Papua New Guinea.

This would certainly have supported their case that Bojo is a complete and utter Bozo race-wise, highly unsuitable to greet international visitors to London, and another disaster for toff and fellow Bullingdon Alumnus Cameron in persuading anyone that the Tories are Cuddly and New.

The London paper also link to most pages of Boris' actual application form.

Which is chronic. Where is asks for a very specific account of how much time he would devote Boris writes "quite a bit".

I really do shudder to think what was on the missing page three.

Click the images above to enlarge.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Newsnight: Was Top Blogger Iain Dale Cut Again?

Or did I nod off? Think perhaps the foot in mouth outbreak finally got him.
Image hat tip: Iain's conscience Tim.

Pickled Politics: Report Economist Skim of Study

Sunny at Pickled Politics found the chart below in The Economist.

I was a little puzzled at the chart and posted this comment:

How big were these samples? (1) And were they structured in any way? (2) USA, France and Italy totally obviously would be like that. The rest of them also distributed as I’d expect.

Why are Irish roots (3) and central european Jewish roots (4) not treated? I’d guess the latter would be towards the top but wouldn’t be surprised if the Irish were huddling with the other hold-outs in the middle (5).

There was a really really LOL comment over at Dale’s where he stuck up for Catholics being allowed to be or to marry royalty. Or royals being allowed to marry Cats. Something like that anyway. The funny comment was that this move if led by Tories would help win urban Irish votes in Manchester and Liverpool. Hah hah hah. Let them try!

The Economist piece skims the surface of this three-page summary item in LSE's Centrepiece which in turn is a precis of this serious paper. Perhaps, with all this publicity there will be some comments now at the EOPP Blog where the study was tagged six weeks ago.

The answers to my questions were:

(1) Only ethnic/legacy groups with 100 or more in sample were plotted;
(2) Not found a particular sample structure yet. But there is a lot of detail in the full paper;
(3) They are, and indeed plotted (strange the journalists missed this! not);
(4) There are faith based results in the tables including Jewish but no identified plot for this group;
(5) These LOL predictions were indeed correct. The Irish are low down (un-
British) despite plotting far right (long residency). Off the chart! Exactly why Iain's Tory vote grab comment was so hilarious to me.

Labour's Fightback: Six Predictions for Six Years

Labour's Fightback is back after the sort of hiatus we used to despair at from "Reclaim Labour". Incidentally of the so-called parliamentary "Left" Jon Cruddas and John McDonnell have also been very quiet. While Michael Meacher has maintained his tempo. (Links in last post).

Owen sees his glass half empty or worse with Brown, and he makes six predictions. Here they are, with my view in italics:

Firstly, there will be a general election in the not-too-distant future.
First week in June 2009

Secondly, Labour will win the election with a similar majority as today.
Probably a bigger majority. Perhaps 90 or so.

Thirdly, David Cameron will resign as Tory leader and leave Parliament.
Quite possible I suppose. If I'm right about the majority. If Owen is right, perhaps not. He was supposed to be on a two-stop strategy after all.

Fourthly, David Davis will be his only viable replacement.
Hague will still be there and might be a more attractive option. Davis is a bit like Labour picking ... oh, I don't know who ... go on then, John McDonnell. Davis would be a change in the direction of travel, not necessarily towards electability.

Fifthly, there will not be another Labour leadership contest for at least six years. Such a contest will be bittersweet for the left: there won't be an obvious successor in whom the trade union bureaucracy and softer left have illusions in (like Brown) - but there will be fewer left MPs and the soft left will be more likely to run their own candidate (probably Cruddas - who has gone very quiet since the deputy leadership contest).
Ten years. Perhaps twelve or thirteen. There is a prospect here of something a bit Swedish occuring in the UK. Ten to thirteen years is a long time in politics. Even six years is. Some nurturing and pragmatism from the left could widen this caucus.

Oh - and sixthly - Michael Meacher's leadership ambitions will continue unabated. You think I'm joking. Seriously, I'm not.
At six years, perhaps. Any more than that, highly unlikely. But he is blogging like a good 'un unlike "bloggers' hero" Jon Cruddas.

Iain Dale's Diary: MPs Who Blog

Mr Dale's draft list of MPs who blog missed quite a few out (see comments at the link). Notably his direct line manager Dave-id Cameron who was the future once, the next leader of the Labour Party John McDonnell, the one after next Jon Cruddas who was many a Labour blogger's fave - for getting IT - but has given up, and Britains' truther in chief Michael Meacher who is pretty prolific.

If David McClean MP has one he is naturally keeping it quiet along with his expenses. But he does have a Tell David pseudo consultation site.

The other Web Cameron is a poet, performer and webmeister with not a hint of a political policy. No change there then.

Marie Louise Gardens: The "Now" Picture

Between those "Before" and the "After" pictures there really ought to be a "Now" and I've had a try at capturing the same view. I had to go much farther back into the park than I expected. More tomorrow.

The park was incredibly quiet. A great place to reflect after attending yet another funeral and wake. Only saw one other in a full half an hour.

But the low footfall and unpampered overgrowth meant squirrels are both numerous and extraordinarily bold. They seem to have a strong red tinge, to their chops in particular. Are these foreign usurpers going a bit ginger? Or turning Red as Man Wit must surely do come the General Election?

And is this post just a warm up for an attempt to make Jon Henley's Squirrel Nutkins Diary in the Guardian? He did pick up LOL's £1-a-minute exclusive on the Boris phone scam jackpot line, even though no squirrels were harmed in the making of it.


Thursday, August 02, 2007

Europe: North West to Lose Another MEP?

The Electoral Commission has published its recommendations (pdf download) on how to further reduce our MEPs from 78 to 72. There were 87 originally. And no dratted PR.

The Commission used the exciting Sainte-Laguë method to wild enthusiasm from psephologists and statisticians.

Major distortion is from the over-representation of Northern Ireland, forced by minimum three MEPs per region. But if one were handed back it would go to the Brummies rather than the NW. This method makes us the second most hard done by region. In other words if there were 74 rather than 72 seats we would have had one of them.

Now you don't have to look. But table A5 gives a little taste.

Hat tip: LDV

Libdemologists Voice: Grant Shapps At It Again

LDV's Mark Pack has scored another of his exclusives on Tory Campaigning Genius Grant Schweppes MP (above, uhurr just like that). Schweppes said Tories could hold their head up after a gain in share in Ealing Southall, which they'd "not been able to do for years". He was sadly forgetting 2005 and 2006 when this feat was achieved in Cheadle and Blaenau Gwent respectively.

But in fact I seem to recall that that Cheadle by-election was also marred by Lib Dems making quite a spectacle of themselves by complaining about the supposedly "dirty", "scandalous", "despicable", "outrageous" leaflets the Tories put out against them. These pointed out the Lib Dem candidate's broken record as the local Council leader.

Fair enough? The Lib Dems didn't think so and they complained to the media, on their own leaflets, on the doorstep and to everyone who might listen to their whining and whingeing.

But if these leaflets were so very shocking and damnable to our Lib Dem friends are they now going to apologise for using the same stories - verbatim - when they were attacking elsewhere? Yes folks! The dirty, despicable etc Tories copied every word from dirty, despicable etc Lib Dem leaflets procured from Labour friends!

The Hunter becomes the Hunted!

UPDATE: Mark Pack (comments) says there was a Tory leaflet implying their man was a rapist. I didn't know about that.

Bicycling: One of Our Bicycles is Missing 1

Dear Boris Piffle Johnson's bicycle is missing. Stolen from a Fort Knoxian mooring by an insolent scallywag. This sort of thing can happen to the best of us and the police are sanguine:

Up here in Manchester's leafy suburbs we had a reverse bike burglary when crack-addled crooks broke in, stormed upstairs shouting, stormed downstairs muttering 'wrong house', nicked some useless stuff (most of which they dropped on the way out), and traded up from a bike to a getaway car.

They left the bike in the drive. The police told us to keep it and they'd be in touch if it were claimed. We did and they haven't been. It does get used every now and then. Not bad.

Perhaps someone round the corner from you has lost their Beamer and gained a silver-grey Marin Sausalito?

Like the one this young scallywag is pushing furtively past the paps.

Libdemologists Voice: Playing Straight Off the Bat

LOL have been following Lib Dem Voice with interest on their rather queer Alan Duncan-bashing exploits. Mark Pack is clinging on like a Leech to the idea that using the word "straight" about your own candidate or the choice ahead of the voters is not automatically "homphobic" (sic). The word seems to bother him so much that his normally impeccable spelling repeatedly stumbles on it.

LOL agree absolutely with this general point, while being concerned that Mark has got a bit manic, with a rising pitch of the Captain Ahab or Don Quixote wild goose chase.

Sometimes e.g. when against a known gay opponent banging on and on about "the straight choice" or even the coded "family man" can clearly be nasty and homophobic. The rest of the time it's perhaps just a bit quaint or mildly dog whistling. Best avoided full stop in all three scenarios.

Manically collecting examples of Tory, Labour and SNP use of the word "straight", where there was no complaint or suggestion of homophobia, does not excuse the Lib Dems from any case where there is such a complaint and it is well-founded. In fact in such a case Simon Hughes has apologised to Peter Tatchell and expressed profound regret at the iffy bits of his Bermondsey campaign.

If Mark's scattergun examples could be construed as homophobia he should explain why. Googling opponents for the word "straight" in any and all literature and throwing stones is I feel protesting too much.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Houses of Parliament: Tory Bloggers Making Passes

Infamous security breacher John Hirst aka Jail House points to an excitable Independent scoop with an illegitimate Tory fundraiser getting the run of the corridors of power.

Not so long ago, before he more or less gave up blogging, Mr GuF reached out to a shoddy Times Story which Guido spun up some more. As I recall, you check by all means, the Times named and party-tagged three Labour peers while naming but not party-tagging two Tories and a cross-bench Military Toff. Which ain't really that fair.

Purely in the interests of fairness these were the cross-bench Janner-scragger Lord Bramall and the Tory Lords Bougham and Vaux (hang on, that's only one) and Jopling.

Then under the rather sexy heading "Nadine Dorries Gave Samuel Coates One" The Daily Pundit pointed at some ambitious Tory Boy Bloggers thusly:

'A number of bloggers also get passes from MPs. Iain Dale gets a pass from Keith Simpson, the Conservative front bench foreign affairs spokesman, while Samuel Coates, the deputy editor of Conservative Home, gets a pass from Nadine Dorries, the Tory MP. Jonathan Sheppard, from Tory Radio, is given a pass by Andrew Turner.'

So that's Keith Simpson Gave Iain Dale One? Or Andrew Turner Gave Jonathan Sheppard One?

Which helps explain this from Adam Boulton:

We also have to deal with the rise of the blogger. Iain Dale, Guido Fawkes et al want Lobby passes. But do they want to operate as journalists or gossip columnists? It’s up to the Serjeant at Arms whether to let them in.

While it makes Iain's terse riposte look rather disingenuous:

Can I make it clear that I do not want a lobby pass. It is true that 18 Doughty Street has applied for one, but I have made clear that it is not for me. I am not a lobby journalist and I do not wish to become one ...

... But I do already have a pass for life to the corridors of the HoP!

Tower of Power: No One Expects the Young Bell Ringers Cycling Tour

But it seems that they arrived mob handed at Rostherne Church this evening and rang their bony young asses off in their seventh tower of the day. They were earnest and mostly rather good at the campanology game according to partner who hardly had to ring at all.

This was the 34th annual venture. The above "Some Like it Hot" ensemble was in Cambridgeshire two years back. Perhaps this is a cross dressing Conservative Future at prayer, answering Maude's dreams?

Tory Meltdown: Guido Wields Double Edged Sword

Mr GuF has an exclusive, following a chat with the garralous ex-A-lister Ali Miraj. Mr Miraj (right) advanced his Conservative Home whine to Cameron and other clique-ists. They didn't like it. But he ran it anyway. And he is clearly deeply upset that while Sayeeda Warsi is lording it he is not. Plus he has sussed (doh!) that Conservative Associations in the ever diminshing field of winnables are not going to pick him. Plus GuF claims that Ali claims to have been propositioned to defect by Labour.

Let's hope Ali has sussed - along with the whole wide watching world - that Guido is not his friend; any more than either man is Dave-id's.

The Hoax: Nothing ... Until He Told a Little White Lie

I'm just guessing you know. But I think some people will be having a bit of fun with this one. Al Gore has caught one already.

Racist Sentencing: BNP Bombers Get Off Lightly

Some here to begin with. I reckon Nick Griffin himself is making comments on the thread. The Voldemort of British politics leaves a very recognizable and unpleasant rabble-rousing slime trail.

Robert Cottage (right, t'other, another blooming or booming Doctor, is David Jackson) - two and a half years - for possessing 23 explosive ingredients, bomb making manuals, BNP fliers, and cunning plans to assassinate heads of state and foment and carry out survivalist race war.

Stands to reason. Andrew Rowe, 36, a Muslim convert from west London, was found guilty in September 2005 of having instructions on firing a mortar and a secret code. A 15-year term of imprisonment was reduced on appeal to 10 years.

The longest sentence - of Asian Muslims - described at the link is 22 years. Even Andrew Rowe has got off lightly. Terrific. More nazi bombers please.

Hat tip: Mr Piper via Mr Newton. Top picture and Guardian story here.

The expression in law of "favoured nations" never rang so true. LOL Story from 1 February 2007. And Septicisle Story from 13 February, re Koyairs (pictured) vs Cottage.

Meme Watching: Gordon Brown, "If not now, when?"

Gordon Brown's speech yesterday at the United Nations - full text and video link - included very welcome announcements on Darfur future and broken aid promises past. But it has attracted some present Tory Boy Blogger interest over his hat tip to an unnamed US President for lifted rhetoric. Brown suggested he lifted the words from Ronald Reagan's second inauguration speech (1985) :

I have asked the Cabinet and my staff a question, and now I put the same question to all of you: If not us, who? And if not now, when? It must be done by all of us going forward with a program aimed at reaching a balanced budget. We can then begin reducing the national debt.

In fact this rhetoric - employed by Ronnie in such a very prosaic context, though one that might appeal to the inner Chancellor in Brown - may be as old as the hills and is certainly of biblical vintage. The most regularly employed element is not a million miles away from Carpe Diem after all. And possibly coined in or around the same decade. A bit millennial. But let's not go there. There is enough to go at without that!

While Brown nodded to Ronald Reagan, an actor parroting lines from magpies and maggots, was he aware of any other coinage of this meme?

Perhaps even this March 2007 usage:

Dear Democrats: Time to Dust Off Inherent Contempt. If Not You Who? If Not Now When? (10:41 am)
It is long past time to firmly disabuse this President of the arrogant notion that he and members of his administration may operate above the law.

Let's start at the very beginning. It's a very good place to start after all. Most scholars of rhetoric suggest that the first saying like this was from the hot shot Talmudic scholar Hillel the Elder:

If I am not for myself, who will be? If I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when? (Pirkei Avot 1:14)

This was in his most active 40 years of scholarship (30BCE - 10CE). (The Roman poet Horace who seized the day was 65 BC - 8 BC.) The middle of three 40 year phases of his long and fruitful life which is also said to have included invention of the sandwich, or at least wrap or kebab, on which he has also been usurped by some Johnny come lately.

The "If not now, when?" meme has been used inter alia about forestry, and complaining about high taxes, and founding a memorial trust, and to name a holocaust survivor services e -journal, for a report of MPs re Jubilee Trust, and before all these as Se non ora, quando? as the title of Primo Levi's celebrated book of resistance (1982).

There's more. Gender based violence affecting refugees in Afghanistan, and in the US Christian call to be ready with echoes Hillel's purpose, as a Tracey Chapman song, to drive US patriotism and unity in TWAT,
as the title of Episode 256 of ER, for a blogpost justifying Bombs on Lebanon and most intriguingly for yours truly in an inspiring speech attributed to one Alice Paul.

Suffragist Alice Paul in 1921 drafted the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and it had been introduced into the US Congress in 1923. The proposed law had 3 basic sections:
Section 1- stated "that equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United State or any state on account of sex";
Section 2-stated-"the congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article";
Section 3- stated- "this amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification". (Alice Paul Institute)

Roger Catlin's TV Eye blog:

The series finale of “Commander in Chief” Wednesday had something “The West Wing” finale did not – an inspiring speech.
In a Town Hall event opposite Donald Sutherland's Nathan Templeton, Geena Davis' President Mackenzie Allen quoted activist Alice Paul in a stirring speech advocating the Equal Rights Amendment.

She liked to quote an adage she learned from her mother, a farmer: “When you put your hand to the plow, you can’t put it down until you get to the end of the row.”

And so, like Alice Paul and so many others before her who have fought for equality, tonight we take one step forward.

And know this, we will fight on and we will take one more step and then one more. Because there is too much work left to do, too much unfinished business. We will keep our hands to the plow.

Because I ask you: if not us, who? If not now, when?

That would have been around 1913 I guess.

If not now, when gets 1,670,000,000 google hits, reducing to a mere 297,000 in quotes. The Hillel attribution gets 27,500, a Reagan 23,100, Maimonides 376 (12th century), Pee Wee Herman (I kid you not) 18 ... but Alice Paul, arguably the real modern author?, gets only nine ...

Alice Paul was the architect of some of the most outstanding political achievements on behalf of women in the 20th century. Born on January 11, 1885 to Quaker parents in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, Alice Paul dedicated her life to the single cause of securing equal rights for all women.

Few individuals have had as much impact on American history as has Alice Paul. Her life symbolizes the long struggle for justice in the United States and around the world. Her vision was the ordinary notion that women and men should be equal partners in society.

When you put your hand to the plow, you can't put it down until you get to the end of the row.
-Alice Paul recalling the advice of her mother
(Alice Paul Institute)

Hilary Swank stars as Paul in Iron Jawed Angels (HBO, 2004) celebrating the lives and in some cases deaths of the USA's Pankhursts.