Friday, December 12, 2008

Will-You-Condemn-Athon

AKA "Speaking Truth To Power." I saw [Jacqui] Smith warns of Zimbabwe 'influx' this morning, but I thought I'd play fair and give our watchees with blogs time to react. Personally, I think Mugabe is a 'modern-day Hitler' should be filed with all the other "X is like Hitler" claims. (This has been noticed by Harry's Place - and taken seriously. Bishops add great moral impact when they agree with you.) But Mugabe is really awful and I think it's really shocking that a minister in a Labour government should worry about an influx of people escaping tyranny/mass murder/disease on false papers. I voted for this lot once. This makes me sick.

I'll say one thing for Professor Geras; he pretty much bears out Michael Ignatieff's claims about academics ignoring the real world. You won't see any condemnations from him regarding actual politicians in power. (Hands up who voted for Ms Smith. Ah, but she was appointed by the Prime Minister. Hands up who voted for Gordon Brown as PM. Thus, democracy in action. The US system, where people actually pull a lever for the Presidential candidate of their preference really does have a lot going for it.)

One thing has always struck me about the loose grouping we call the 'Decents'. It's all student politics. It's just posturing and ostentatious piety. Practicalities don't matter - orators and their audiences are several removes from the actual controls of government. And this lot never, ever condemn power: the blame is with 'Stoppers' (how dare the Plebs voice their 'opinions' when these clash with St Tony?) or 'Guardianistas' or 'liberals'. Some vaporous cabal or other which one citation will nail.

Let me recommend Auden (in the Guardian). We can't do much; we can at least let those who get away in.

18 Comments:

Anonymous Simon said...

I'll say one thing for Professor Geras; he pretty much bears out Michael Ignatieff's claims about academics ignoring the real world. You won't see any condemnations from him regarding actual politicians in power.

Has Decent Norm said very much about Obama? It must be quite wounding to have an Iraq war opponent in the White House when you made your name in the World of Blogs with a post entitled "why did the left march to save Saddam?" with repeated follow ups on the general theme that opposing the Iraq war was intrinsically anti-American.

12/12/2008 09:43:00 PM  
Anonymous John Fallhammer said...

Hands up who voted for Ms Smith. Ah, but she was appointed by the Prime Minister. Hands up who voted for Gordon Brown as PM. Thus, democracy in action. The US system, where people actually pull a lever for the Presidential candidate of their preference really does have a lot going for it.

That's not significantly different though, is it? If Obama were to resign and Biden appointed a new interior minister (Attorney General?), you'd have the same situation. Mid-term resignations are less common in the US than the UK but we did actually know in 2005 that Brown would almost certainly be taking over at some point.

The difference is that the country didn't directly vote for Blair either; it voted for local candidates of the Labour party. If someone is to be blamed for the squalid state of so much of the government, fairly or unfairly, it's the PLP. Personally, the main change in my attitudes over the last seven years has been from generally respecting Labour MPs to despising all but a handful.

Ooh, I really ran off with that nitpick of a parenthetical aside.

12/13/2008 12:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...

If someone is to be blamed for the squalid state of so much of the government, fairly or unfairly, it's the PLP.

I asked Ken Livingstone once* what he was doing, as an avowed socialist and libertarian, in a party that was neither. He said that 'New Labour' was a very thin crust on top of a party which... would follow its leaders whoever they were. (Benn, and most other Labour leftists, would complete that sentence differently.) He singled out the PLP - "most Labour MPs will vote for whatever's put in front of them", or words to that effect. The message seemed to be that there was still hope, because all it would take to restore Clause Four was the right knife in the right back. Inspiring, and yet not.

*He was an after-dinner speaker at an IT managers' conference sponsored by the magazine I was working for at the time. He gave good speech.

12/13/2008 09:13:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

orators and their audiences are several removes from the actual controls of government

Except Saint Michael of Toronto, of course.

12/13/2008 09:59:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Bloody hell, check out Aaro's latest.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/david_aaronovitch/article5333253.ece?Submitted=true

Because a member of the public told a journalist he saw a man running with a bomb belt and wires hanging out of it, an experienced police surveillance team should be excused.

12/13/2008 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Also, when offered the choice between competing recollections of the police and those of witnesses, the jury chose not to believe the police.

Heh, I do like that "chose not to believe".

I choose not to believe that Aaro's not being a tosser about this.

12/13/2008 12:13:00 PM  
Blogger John B said...

"Hands up who voted for Gordon Brown as PM."

I didn't vote Labour in the last election, but anyone who did knew perfectly well they were voting for Gordon Brown as PM, and anyone who claims otherwise is a ridiculous, sophistical liar.

12/13/2008 09:42:00 PM  
Blogger Malky Muscular said...

Oooo

12/13/2008 10:05:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

and anyone who claims otherwise is a ridiculous, sophistical liar

Well, that includes me then, though against the accusations of sophistry, dishonesty and being ridiculous I might contend that:

(a) it's quhite an important constitutional point that we don't, in fact, directly elect the Prime Minister ,

(b) the leader of the Labour Party at the last election was not in fact Gordon Brown.

The latter point in particular makes me wonder whether the claim two postings above might itself not be considered a little ridiculous, and perhaps a piece of sophistry in itself.

12/14/2008 09:26:00 AM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

Yes, but isn't John B referring to the fact that NuLab were struggling in the polls leading up to the election, due to Blair's unpopularity (a fact now conveniently overlooked by Blairites and Decents). As a result Brown was umbilically tied to him for the rest of the campaign, with the unspoken assumption "vote Blair, get Brown" (at least some time in the future).

However, he is literally, and in the context of the OP, incorrect.

12/14/2008 06:05:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

I think we all knew it was a likelihood: but it wasn't a given by any means (even neglecting the constitutional point) and to my mind there's more than enough distance between likelihood and certainty to render John's characterisation unreasonable.

12/14/2008 06:28:00 PM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

Because a member of the public told a journalist he saw a man running with a bomb belt and wires hanging out of it, an experienced police surveillance team should be excused.

There is too much nonsense in Aaro's piece to go into in full just now but I was particularly struck these comments -

He was more or less doomed from the moment that police misidentified him as Hussain Osman, one of the 21 July terrorists.

By the next day police had identified where he lived, and when de Menezes appeared from the same building, they identified him as Osman.

But de Menezes was, of course, NEVER positively identified as Osman.

However, Aaro is correct when he says

In the emergency operations control room, Room 1600, they proceeded on the basis that the man who was now being followed was indeed Osman.

The police cocked up in a number of ways that day but the contradicton between those two facts demonstrates, in a nutshell, the case against the police, and why those in charge of the operation (in particlular Cressida Dick, should be sacked).

12/14/2008 11:00:00 PM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

Oh, and as HP was mentioned, WTF is going on there at the moment? I mean we all know that it's always been a bit bonkers but recently its most bizarre aspects - DavidT's obsession with Trots and Islamists, the shit guest posts, the obsession with Israel/Palestine and anti-Semitism, have run riot. At two thousand words a time.
The piece about McCarthyism is so bad (and so long) it could take star billing in the next issue of Decentiya.

12/15/2008 09:03:00 AM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

I think we all knew it was a likelihood: but it wasn't a given by any means (even neglecting the constitutional point) and to my mind there's more than enough distance between likelihood and certainty to render John's characterisation unreasonable.

The shorter version - never to trust Blair as far as you could spit?

12/15/2008 09:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aaro's piece about the de Menezes inquest is indeed full of nonsense. He is in fact ignoring the main point that came out of the trial and the inquest, which is that the Police are unable to explain why they thought that de Menezes was Osman. If "9/11 changed everything" it surely should have meant improved procedures for identifying and tracking potential terrorists, but there was little sign of it in this operation.

Moussaka Man

12/15/2008 09:53:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

He's also ignoring that the jury didn't just "choose not to believe" the cops - the police evidence contradicted that of every other witness, which itself was part of a pattern of police unreliability (if I may put it kindly) on pretty much every point. Aaro's characterisation of the jury's decision is - again, to put it kindly - weaselly.

12/15/2008 10:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...

I think it's a gesture towards legalese - if you're returning a verdict based on two contradictory sets of evidence, you have to choose to believe one or the other. The effect is still weaselly, though.

12/15/2008 02:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If 12 citizens chosen at random from the electoral register "choose not to believe the Police" then the Police have a problem: the public at large think that the Police are capable of telling lies and are more likely to believe a group of strangers who happen to be on the same train but have no motive for telling lies.

Moussaka Man

12/15/2008 03:48:00 PM  

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