did you know ...?
Jokes about "what does Aaro use as a contraceptive? his journalism" will not be necessary.
(incorporating "World of Decency")
I'm not saying that the bank's economists will run off with the gold reserves. It's not the honesty of civil servants' actions I worry about so much as the honesty of their advice. Civil service independence rests on the belief that public servants are free to speak candidly to their masters without fear of the consequences. The ideal is already hard enough to live up to. A dominant minister or prime minister promotes civil servants who don't say things such as: "The war in Iraq is going to be harder than you think" or "Your NHS reforms are going to create chaos".
It was for this reason that the civil service watered down "ranking and yanking" when Sir Michael Bichard, then permanent secretary at the Department for Education, proposed it at the height of the dotcom bubble.
Now it's back and is about to be imposed on one of Britain's oldest institutions. Nothing, it seems, can discredit a bad idea in Whitehall if it's a bad idea which has come from the private sector. I'm sure its proponents won't be following the directors of Enron to prison, but I'm equally sure that, like Enron, the economy they manage is about to crash.
"When I was a reporter on the Birmingham Post & Mail, I could guess anyone's politics by how they described the looting and murder that overwhelmed Handsworth in September 1985. If they talked about the 'Handsworth riots', I knew they were conservatives ..."
"Twenty years on, I am back on the Lozells Road after another riot" (emphasis added)
Theodore Dalrymple, the pseudonym of a Birmingham doctor and writer, noted recently in the Telegraph that the shopkeepers were facing a modern variant of European (and now Middle Eastern) anti-semitism
A few weeks ago, Harriet Harman was holding a surgery for her Peckham constituents. As always, it was an open house, and every variety of south Londoner was coming to her office. She had dealt with the usual run of complaints and appeals when the door opened and for the first time in her life Harman confronted authentic anti-democrats.
Yet here were totalitarians and misogynists going to a woman democratic politician and begging her to persuade Tony Blair not to take authoritarian measures against their authoritarian sect. The scene could have been bettered only if Harman had been a Jewish lesbian.
On the opendemocracy.net website Huda Jawad writes of being badgered by young men at her university.
Shiv Malik of the New Statesman found a Hizb recruiter who described how he followed the tactics of a Moonie or Scientologist when seducing a convert. ‘Say for example that you’re having a marriage breakdown. I’ll use that: “Your wife is leaving you because of problems that stem from the fact that Islam isn’t present in the world today”. ’
All of which seems to show that Hizb is an uncomplicated promoter of extremism.
The Islamists regarded it as sinful to stand in elections or even vote.
[Hizb’s] draft constitution imagines a caliphate in which only Muslims can elect the caliph …
I am a late convert to many of the marvels of capitalism, but when it comes to the food industry the old Bolshevik emerges again. These companies lie and dissemble in their packaging, dispute until they can dispute no longer every bit of research that links their horrible products with modern ill-health, and they suborn or browbeat government and agencies. Take the Advertising Association and its attitude to the marketing of junk food — food which is high in sodium and fats, low in nutrition and which, together with our sedentary lifestyles, is killing us. The Director-General of the AA recently described as “unproven” the idea that junk food advertising contributed to ill-health. Only if it is “unproven” that advertising leads to sales — a proposition that would bankrupt the entire ads industry.
A week ago, at a reception in one of London’s dowdier hotels, Maryam Namazie received a cheque and a certificate stating that she was Secularist of the Year 2005. The audience from the National Secular Society cheered, but no one else noticed.
The happy crowd who arrived at the Montcalm Hotel on Saturday were also joined by Honorary Associates Dr Evan Harris MP, Joan Smith, Martin Rowson and Jonathan Meades. The hilarious entertainment was provided by top notch comedian Stewart Lee, who is co-author of Jerry Springer — The Opera. His joke about what happens if you lick a lollipop with the face of the pope on it doesn’t bear repeating in a family e-letter.
For all that, Maryam Namazie’s obscurity remains baffling. She ought to be a liberal poster girl. Her life has been that of a feminist militant who fights the oppression of women wherever she finds it.
This would be the same Mayam Namazie who offered the following thoughtful comment on the issue of the hijab: “I suppose if it were to be compared with anyone’s clothing it would be comparable to the Star of David pinned on Jews by the Nazis to segregate, control, repress and to commit genocide.” So perhaps it’s just as well they didn’t get her started on Islamophobia.
The Ontario proposal [for “right to faith-based civil arbitration"] provoked a racist backlash throughout Canada against Muslims and their supposed barbaric religious practices, which it was claimed had no place in a civilised Western society. And it was another WPI central committee member, Homa Arjomand, who played a leading role in encouraging this upsurge of Islamophobia. For her trouble, she became the “poster girl” of the most hardline right-wingers, receiving plaudits from the likes of Front Page Magazine.
It can’t be long before Cohen and the WPI go the whole hog and join their friends in GALHA — with whom they have co-operated closely in the anti-Qaradawi campaign — in promoting an anti-Muslim agenda that is indistinguishable from the vile propaganda of the racist Right.
It is, in essence, the Gilligan defence again. Never mind the facts, the story fits the preconceptions, so it doesn’t really matter if it’s true or not.
Avoidance of what al-Qaeda stands for began in 9/11 and has become endemic since. My favourite piece of victim blaming was after the Madrid bombings. For a few hours, there was a rumour that they were the work of ETA and Eddie Mair, the presenter of Radio 4's PM news show, duly had a go at a representative of the Spanish government, alleging that Madrid's refusal to talk to Basque nationalists was the root cause of the atrocity.
By the next day, it was clear that Islamists, not Basques, had attacked Madrid. Without pausing for breath, Mair duly wanted to know if the presence of Spanish troops in Iraq was the root cause of the atrocity. The identity of the bombers was irrelevant. The Spanish had to be the cause of their own suffering.
I found myself in broad agreement with Nick Cohen ('Hands off the NHS', Comment, last week), until the barbed final sentence, where he comments that the NHS might not be able to cope, 'the next time the Islamists come'. Does he believe the NHS would cope better if the Irish republicans returned, or there's a fire in a tube station or, probably most likely, a bog-standard privatisation-fuelled train crash? It is a sign of bigotry to hitch a pet hate onto an otherwise sensible point.
FLEET Street's liberal grandees have been remarkably absent from the Tory conference in Blackpool. Where is Polly Toynbee of The Guardian? David Aaronovitch and runny-nosed Tom Baldwin of The Times? These high-minded Olympians seldom miss the chance to attend any party conderence at Bournemouth or Brighton, yet there has been no sign of them on the windswept shores of Lancashire, even though the Tories' get-together has been a lively event, ripe with news stories. Is it possible that the great minds of the Left find Blackpool a little too, well, working-class?
The time is twenty three years ago. The venue is a flat in
Meanwhile, a few miles to the East and a world away from the ratpit of student politics, the Conservative Party, glowing and bellicose from a splendid little war, is settling in for a long, luxurious bout of hegemony.
Them times ain't no more. It’s the Tory party now that is about as relevant as the National Union of Students. And as they convene to look for a new messiah, why look who it is who walks among them smiling benignly. It’s uurrgggghhh! It’s aarrghhhhh!. It’s Dave! By dint of extensive lunching and mighty labours on behalf of conventional wisdom he’s risen from cistern decoration to Murdoch monsignor, at large amongst an errant flock.
Do I detect a hint of vengeance in Dave’s opinions? Not at all. All is right with the world. Dave can walk amongst the Tories in the guise of Uncle Aaron, bestowing a casual blessing here, wagging a warning finger there. His gaze alights on David Cameron, a person not too dissimilar to Dave himself. A Tory perhaps, but safely wet. The kind of person you could chat to at the PTA about the wonders of Polish plumbers, full of bright ideas about this and that. A glow of recognition ensues.
A boring column for us, perhaps. But for Dave, something of an apotheosis. After all this time he has met the enemy on favourable terms, and some of them are his.
" He didn’t say much, being for the moment constrained by collectiveThis is "liberal optimism" all over again. Vote for the guy who says he's going to do X on the basis that you really like the idea of Y and he might be lying. The terrible thing is that I don't think Aaro realises that this is ridiculous.
responsibility … It was what happened after he sat down that was so interesting
[Michael Gove got up on his hind legs and spoke, so this is presumably
"interesting" meaning "boring", like rappers saying "bad" when they mean "good"
–BB ] … And the implication was that these were all Cameronian policies that
David was not yet in a position to advocate".