Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Dave Disappoints

Hello. I read Dave's Paddling to Jerusalem yesterday, and I found it unexpectedly good. I rather liked Dave again, and I felt bad for being mean about him here.

Then I read The rats are sinking Brown's ship and remembered why I was mean.

(To commenters bubby and Moussaka Man, I read your comments when I logged in to post this. Thanks for alerting me to Jackie Ashley though.)

Jackie Ashley has got a reply in already. Bummer, I was going to cite her as a Brownite ... but I'm getting ahead of myself. She defends the Guardian, so I can leave that. I am impressed by her charm offensive: Dave compares Guardian staffers to the rats of his title - "they plunged into the water and made for their nests on Purity Island" - while she calls him "One of the sharpest commentators in the Times". (Of course, that could be derogatory to that august paper.) Dave:

You get a better write-up in The Guardian if you are Fidel Castro or the leader of Hamas than if you're the Labour Prime Minister.


As Jackie Ashley says, she's fairly pro-Brown. (See He may be disappointing, but Brown isn't a disaster for instance. She's intelligently critical of him, but why the hell not if the alternative is unreadable sycophancy?)

As with his last column, I wonder who Dave is writing for. The Times isn't overflowing with support for Gordon Brown is it? (I don't read that much of it to be sure.) Why pick on the Guardian? That's not a rhetorical question. Why not say positive things about Brown rather than his critics on another paper, which very few of his readers are likely to read themselves, are crap? That was a rhetorical question.

So what does The Guardian say? Does it explain the Government's case and urge the NUT not to be so bloody selfish? Get out. “This strike was not whipped out of thin air, but born of genuine resentment,” blah, blah. “Tony Blair used to claim education was his first, second and third priorities, and teachers feel that Labour should be treating them better...” equivocate, bleat. This stuff lacks the necessary resolve and character that would have elevated it even to pusillanimous.


Both quotes come from last Friday's leader. I think CP Scott had a point with "Comment is free. Facts are sacred." Good for him. Did I miss something or did he really insist that the purpose of the Guardian was to "explain the Government's case" as well? I think the anonymous writer was rather too much on the side of the government.

Take a slightly longer view, however, and the government's record appears much better. Over the decade salaries have gone up by a fifth in real terms, which is one reason why the rate of vacancies is down by more than half since 2001. That reality looms large in the minds of cash-strapped ministers who are aware that parents are more interested in class sizes than they are in teachers' pay.


And now comes the point when I abandoned my watch duties. I couldn't actually finish the article. I gave up at this point.

It's no better in the Parliamentary Labour Party. The creatures who moaned about Blair and bigged up Brown are whingeing again. Anything difficult, like 10p, and they don't see it as any part of their job to explain or defend their own Government. Much easier to bend the ear of a passing hack about the hard time they had back in the constituency. And they thought politics was all about cutting the ribbons on new hospitals.


Actually, I gave up at 'creatures'. But I had to copy something, so I finished the paragraph.

8 Comments:

Anonymous bubby said...

Teachers are not terribly well paid considering what an important job they do. You spend years doing a first degree and PGCE and then start on 20K. Pay does improve quickly but its a very stressful job as evidenced by the very high level of people leaing the profession.

The moan about the teachers was preceded by this gem.

It isn't true that, under Mr Brown, the poor have got poorer, but it is the case that the very rich are very much richer. We have not yet devised a system that cuts them down to size without jeopardising wealth creation.

A lot of the people who got superich did so via speculation of one sort or another. You could certainly argue that very little of this was 'wealth creation'.

4/29/2008 11:29:00 PM  
Blogger Benjamin said...

Teachers are only trying to secure their position on pay, by withdrawing their labour if necessary. This is not selfish, its just basic economics. To keep up, sometimes this is necessary; being meek and mild doesn't always work.

As an ex-leftist with a communist background Dave should knows these basics. It's all very well Dave working for Murdoch, but he shouldn't throw the baby out with bathwater and affect total memory loss.

Okay, might as well ask what salary Dave earns, what his pay rises are, and how he sees his relative importance in the scheme of things compared to teachers.

4/30/2008 12:36:00 AM  
Blogger Benjamin said...

It isn't true that, under Mr Brown, the poor have got poorer, but it is the case that the very rich are very much richer. We have not yet devised a system that cuts them down to size without jeopardising wealth creation

That's a moot point that neatly sidesteps the question as to why the UK has inequality levels approaching that of the US and Hong Kong, whilst other successful capitalist countries can have much lower levels of inequality and child poverty.

4/30/2008 12:41:00 AM  
Blogger Benjamin said...

It's no better in the Parliamentary Labour Party. The creatures who moaned about Blair and bigged up Brown are whingeing again. Anything difficult, like 10p, and they don't see it as any part of their job to explain or defend their own Government. Much easier to bend the ear of a passing hack about the hard time they had back in the constituency. And they thought politics was all about cutting the ribbons on new hospitals.

This is absurd. There is supposed to be representative democracy in the UK - and it's that, eventually, that leads even the most loyal Labour MPs to "whinge" when some policy or other does not go down well. They get pressure from their constituents, read opinion polls, etc. Newspaper columnists have no such complications.

Now, even if you swallow all the stuff about compensation, tax credits and the like, the very notion of raising tax on the poor should be problematic for the Labour Party - at the very least in PR terms. And so it has proved.

Dave clearly views MPs as cannon fodder, merely conduits to explain party policy come what may, the parliament as a rubber stamp. However, this one dimensional view does not accord with the British constitution or the democratic process.

4/30/2008 01:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the days of Blair quite a lot of hacks and MPs spent their time "explaining Government policy". I suspect that quite a few of us have letters from MPs exlaining to us that the Government was absolutely sure that Iraq had WMD, or have cuttings of eminent journalists telling us the same thing. (It wasn't just Iraq, though it was the most serios occurrence of this kind of thing.) Eventually the hacks and MPs have woken up and realised that the people who were calling them chocolate teapots had a point.

Blair got away with it for quite a long time, but eventually the hacks and MPs began to wake up to how party loyalty had been misused. Brown is getting the backlash. Perhaps it's tough on him, but it's good to see some signs of real politics.

Moussaka Man

4/30/2008 07:01:00 AM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

Blair got away with it for quite a long time, but eventually the hacks and MPs began to wake up to how party loyalty had been misused.

And how long did that take ...? A lot of expensive education was obviously wasted.

4/30/2008 07:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're right, GG: a lot of expensive education has been wasted. It seems possible to feed these people large quantities of unsupported assertions and illogical arguments before they reach the "hang on a minute ..." moment. I'm reminded of those psychology experiments where the objective is to see how many stupid (or nasty) things you can get the subjects to do before they say "you're having me on, aren't you?". It does take some of these people a long time to realise that they're being led by the nose, despite their expensive educations, doesn't it?


Moussaka Man

4/30/2008 12:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you notice how the 'Decents' who had a go at the antiwar left (falsely) for not supporting Iraqi trade unionists - don't support British trade unionists.

5/01/2008 01:37:00 PM  

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