So that's what it's for.
Nick Cohen, Evening Standard 31/5/2006
(incorporating "World of Decency")
We weren’t won over by the gravitas, dignity and integrity of Norman Geras, hugely impressive as his speech was. We weren’t won over by the erudition and knowledge of Shalom Lappin. We weren’t even won over by the enthusiasm and considerable intelligence of Eve Garrard.
We were won over by the passion, determination and ambition of Alan Johnson. (not the minister - bruschettaboy)
Johnson was different. He spoke of practicalities and applications – his optimism, appealing as it was, was more than matched by a sense of personal proportion, realism and pragmatism. The idealism of the other speakers was transformed into relevant, achievable goals; supporting international trade unionism and other NGOs, for example, lobbying British parliamentarians, translating the manifesto for a wider audience, and so on. In providing this, Johnson turned what was essentially a talking shop into something that may have political value. It became clear how one could personally contribute. In presenting the Euston politics as an art of the possible (to paraphrase badly), a flush of excitement was created.
About what you'd expect. It wasn't embarrassingly awful but it was pretty tedious. Lots of handouts with recycled versions of Norm's blog posts on them. Geras is clearly the father figure of this movement and appeared to be enjoying and encouraging his personality cult. Nick Cohen is not as good at public speaking as he thinks he is and seemed to be swallowing half his words. Everyone seemed to be more worried about "cultural relativism" than Islamism. Pretty well attended, very white, young crowd. Looked a lot like a university Labour Club meeting, and probably that's what it was. Alan Johnson[not the minister – bruschettaboy] actually comes over quite well in person. I didn't stay for the drinks afterward.
Whatever they do, the odds are that it will not work, because they will listen to advisers who all but guarantee failure. By “not work”, I don’t mean fail on a grand scale in the same way building a democratic Iraq or abolishing child poverty isn’t working
More than anything else, Lord Hutton’s inquiry into the decision-making before the Iraq war showed how the old lines have been blurred. If you blot out the names from the transcripts of meetings, it is impossible to tell who is the politician and who is the civil servant, who is the spin-doctor and who is the spy
As those who put their trust in the BBC come to terms with the disquieting thought that Alastair Campbell is more reliable than John Humphrys, new Labour has every right to feel pleased with itself. Once again, predictions of Blair's demise from the Mystic Megs of the lobby have proved false. Once again, the PM has triumphed against all odds. Once again, he has been vindicated in every respect except one: there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and the reason for their absence needs investigating.
As to the abstract nature of human rights, well you sure as hell know when they’re not there — when there isn’t freedom of expression or freedom of worship, when there is no right to a fair trial, or right not to be subjected to arbitrary detention, where there is torture or gross abuse
Among other sex crimes alleged by The Mail on Sunday was that Mr Prescott had attended a memorial service with the Queen and “then went straight back to his grace-and-favour flat in Admiralty House and had sex”. Actually it’s hard to tell which part of this is supposed to be shocking — having sex shortly after seeing the Queen (some kind of obscure lèse-majesté), or having sex in a grace-and-favour flat (as opposed to a flat that you have paid for). Perhaps the author of this piece, the political editor of The MoS, Simon Walters, could advise our more anxious readers on the correct interval between sharing a space with Her Majesty and having an orgasm.