Friday, April 10, 2009

Collective guilt

Our comments section are correct to note that Aaro writes a rather good column on the occasion of Ian Tomlinson's death at the G20 protests. Context is required, however, as I think Aaro's column (particularly the last two paragraphs) surely has to be seen as a reply to this disgraceful piece of crap from Times comment editor Daniel Finkelstein's "Comment Central" blog on the 2nd itself:
What, then, of the protestors argument that the police were likely to be heavy handed, and so proved. Well, the demo on Saturday was legitimate and peaceful. Anybody who wanted to demonstrate was able to.

Everybody knew, everybody knew, that this was not the plan for yesterday. Yesterday there was scheduled to be a large violent element menacing people and property. The police were going to need to take tough action to prevent it.

Anybody who decided to join in would have been fully aware of this and would have chosen to go despite having had other chances to register their opinion.


In the four days subsequent, Finkelstein has not written a single word about Mr Tomlinson, and the "Comment Central" blog has been taken up with momentous matters such as the Beatles and transcendental meditation. What a fucking shower.

28 Comments:

Blogger Alex said...

Daniel Finkelstein is a past and probably future salaried official of the Conservative Party, is he not? The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police is at the moment serving at the pleasure of Mr. Boris Johnson, Mayor of London (Conservative).

I think much Tory reaction or nonreaction is explained by this simple fact.

4/10/2009 07:41:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Dear God. As you say, Finkelstein on April 2: Yesterday there was scheduled to be a large violent element menacing people and property. April 1 was Wednesday. At 10.30 on Wednesday morning the sunny front of the Bank of England is furiously busy with men in combat trousers, leather jackets and old trainers, carrying suspiciously heavy rucksacks. They are purposeful and menacing. They’ve come a long way for this; they’ve come to show the world a thing or two. They are the media. That was Sunday Times columnist AA Gill. "It is like Fleetwood Mac reuniting: nostalgic agitprop." I find Gill a lot more plausible here than all the stories of imminent revolution.

Martin Samuel late of the Times, now of the Mail, was rather good today.

Alex Massie in the Spectator is the best, IMO. Or, to put it another way, if an "ordinary" member of the public had assaulted Tomlinson in this fashion they would, quite rightly be facing criminal charges. And he understands bullying better than his colleague Martin Bright. No, it would seem to be a thuggish officer taking the chance to vent some frustration upon an innocent - and clearly, obviously, innocent - chap shambling along the road on his way home from work. Ian Tomlinson was bullied because the police felt like bullying someone.

The really cynical part of me thinks that Aaro (who is undeniably astute) just realised before his colleagues that there was no way to spin this one. I hope that's not true.

4/10/2009 08:05:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Teabag said...

Alex Massieis is bang on the money. But all the same, his hair is a very strange object, isn't it?

4/10/2009 08:48:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

The really cynical part of me thinks that Aaro (who is undeniably astute) just realised before his colleagues that there was no way to spin this one. I hope that's not true.

I'm pretty sure it isn't. Check out the last two paras I highlighted, where Aaro mentions the "kettle" technique as per se a misuse of police power - I think he just read Finkelstein's thing and replied to it in as stern terms as compatible with workplace comity.

4/10/2009 09:53:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

I forgot to mention that Finkelstein's doctrine of a "common purpose" is one that was only ever used by apartheid South Africa to judicially murder black protestors.

4/10/2009 10:04:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Very persuasive that Aaro is directly taking Danny's points up, and admirable too.

But as I think I said in the comments on another thread, I'd have had more time for Aaro's argument if he (or anyone else really) had put any of this into print before the demo. There were far too many journos parroting the police line in advance of the protests.

That's not to excuse this kind of rubbish, which Aaro directly takes issue with:

They should have expected to have an uncomfortable time - penned in and so forth - since their presence was as much a support for violent uprising - whether they say that is what they intended or not - as a piece of protest on climate policy.

Especially awful is his linking to the 'police were attacked as they helped dying man' story. and there being nothing since on his blog about it is not surprising really. I have very little time for Finkelstein in general.

There is however a pretty telling phrase in that quotation. 'Their presence was as much suport for x - whether they say that is what they intended or not - as a piece of protest on y'.

Hmm, remind you of another argument about protests that's close to Decent hearts?

4/11/2009 07:48:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Point taken, B2. It does look like a response to DF. DF has more dissent at the Times I blame the postwar Conservative Party. Successive Tory governments have traumatised the rest of politics by attacking criticism of the police as all but seditious. Those scars go deep in the Labour Party. Margaret Thatcher then threw a fortune at police pay without securing the reforms that this could have brought. When Kenneth Clarke looked inclined to take on the police, his party bit his head off.

Not just Tory governments: Daniel Finkelstein is a Tory in opposition.

4/11/2009 08:15:00 AM  
Blogger Alex said...

Ye gods, Martin Kettle didn't even try to defend the bill over this.

4/11/2009 01:40:00 PM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

Nick's in the review section today.

Anodyne stuff IMHO, except for the execrable:

State capitalism is already here in Russia, the Middle East and Venezuela.

Venezuela?

4/12/2009 05:54:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Yeah, Nick really is boring on the credit crunch. His point about oil being in the hands of unstable regimes seems totally bonkers, based in pure hypothesis as opposed to 'enlightenment rationalism'.

I particularly like the way that over the last few months he has consistently pretended that he was always vocally opposed to Labour buttering up investment bankers. He pretty much shut up on that score after 2001, there's nothing about it in What's Left at all (and you could arge that there really sould be, but evidently Gerry Healy was a more pressing issue), and in fact Nick seemed pretty much happy with it until the system hit the rocks.

Surely Nick's (still relatively) new bessie mate Oliver Kamm would have something to say about the last paragraph, too?

4/13/2009 09:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Der Bruno Stroszek said...

Nick seems, well, almost like a left-winger in that review, and it's not bad, but it is marred by the fact that (like the Waiting for the Etonians preview in the Observer a few months back) he keeps on using the phrase "social democracy" over and over again as a totem of his ideal society without giving any hint of what he might mean by it.

I mean, I can understand the phrase on its own, but in the hands of someone who up until recently was happy to regard the SWP and Jack Straw as being fundamentally the same thing, what does it mean? How has Nick supported it over the last few years? I don't recall him even mentioning it that much until it became painfully obvious that he was going to have to swot up on Economics for Dummies, though I may be wrong.

4/13/2009 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger Alex said...

Oil in the hands of weird regimes; it's a straight lift from Airmiles Friedman's notion of "petropolitics", two years and over $100/bbl late.

4/13/2009 10:38:00 AM  
Blogger cian said...

Russia and Venezuela are xenophobic? It does seem to be Cable that he's channeling there, but it is an odd comment nonetheless.

4/14/2009 10:22:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Nick in the Standard today. Apparently the death of Ian Tomlinson was 'a police cock-up'... Also ,quite incomprehensibly, Cohen claims that 'the public doesn't fully grasp' the idea that terror arrests have to sometimes be made early. Because of course there's een no track record of this being the case... and thus he can write another 'terrorism is bad' piece!

Despite mentioning Bob Quick, Nick doesn't mention his role in the acceleration of these arrests...

4/14/2009 01:55:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

What the heck does this sentence mean?

The 9/11, 7/7 and Iraqi atrocities were on such a scale that the authorities have a duty to snuff out the faintest chance of another crime against humanity (emphasis added)

Does "Iraqi" refer to the Tiger Tiger and Glasgow Airport attacks, which IIRC were carried out by Iraqis? Does he mean Madrid?

4/14/2009 03:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Dave Weeden said...

Oh that's nothing, B2.

Now it seems that many of the arrested men won't even be charged, but deported back to Pakistan (assuming, that is, the British can get believable assurances that they won't be tortured on return). [Paragraph 3]

Won't they be charged? Are you sure?

They could yet be charged but already there is a temptation to regard this as another police cock-up. [Paragraph 4]

Well, I suppose those aren't exactly contradictory - it seems that they won't be charged, BUT, you know, they might be.

Are you tempted by Aaro on Cuba? The NYT has rather more solid info on what's happening.

4/14/2009 04:13:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

I assumed he meant bombs in Iraq?

4/14/2009 04:17:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

"The 9/11, 7/7 and Iraqi atrocities" I reckon this is NC's dummy copy and he meant to put something else in to end the three-card trick but forgot about it and the sub missed it. (At least that would explain why it seems to have been jotted down on the back of a beer-mat anyway).

Madrid is the usual contender here. He can't really call the attempted Glasgow airport and Tiger Tiger attacks atrocities - as no-one died - and that would be a tad disrespectful to the dead of 9/11 and 7/7.

No doubt the irony of his final line is lost on him: "desperate men are planning a massacre, and the rest of us will not be sure if they are being prescient or alarmist". Hmm...

4/14/2009 06:58:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

Aaro on Cuba ... hrmph, really. I'm sure Yoani Sanchez is all that and a bag of beans, and the Cuban state is an authoritarian shitehouse, but it really sticks in my throat to have to cover such a clearly bad-faith piece of conventional wisdom hooha. Given the degree of authoritarian control Aaro is prepared to cede to the British state in the face of basically not very much, is he really trying to tell me that he would be a doughty defender of civil liberties if we were under constant threat of invasion by the world's biggest military power? Double points also for the sarcastic references to American provocateurs and CIA agents, as if such things were totally unknown in Cuba or the mere products of paranoid fantasies.

4/14/2009 07:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr Kitty:

"He can't really call the attempted Glasgow airport and Tiger Tiger attacks atrocities - as no-one died -.."

What would you call them?

4/14/2009 10:32:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

I would have thought we could pick from a variety of terms.

But what would you call yourself?

4/15/2009 06:35:00 AM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

Anon -

"Failed attacks" would be an appropriate description of the two incidents in Glasgow and London; but it begs the questions:

1. Why (if indeed he is referring to the attempts I mentioned) does he call them the "Iraqi atrocities"? No-one else has used that phrase. Does he also use the term Heathrow atrocities to describe the failed suicide bombings of August 10 2006?

2. Why bracket them with 9/11 and 7/7? It seems to over-dramatize the "Iraqi" attacks whilst diminishing the first two.

3. He should make damn sure he is specific when bandying around phrases like "Iraqi atrocities" as there is no shortage of carnage from which to nominate.

4/15/2009 08:25:00 AM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

What would you call them?why oh why oh why, do people think that this is a good place to come for a condemnathon? We are a site that specifically doesn't endorse the practice of deciding on politically-correct ways to refer to things.

Please don't respond to that question (unless and until "anonymous" decides to clarify what it means). I will leave Mr Kitty's comment standing, but any other replies will be deleted.

4/15/2009 08:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Der Bruno Stroszek said...

Cor, Private Eye has a little box-out in Books & Bookmen pointing out a hypocritical statement by Nick Cohen!

Part of me thinks "Well, one down, fifty billion to go", but I really did never think they'd ever pull him up on anything. The tide really is turning on the sneer-lipped slander-merchant, isn't it?

4/15/2009 02:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Simon said...

Private Eye does have a habit of really turning on people when they fall out with them (cf Peter McKay, Nigel Dempster, etc). If Nick gets a Hackwatch (of which he is surely more deserving than pretty much any other working columnist) then we'll know this has happened.

4/15/2009 02:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Nick's "Iraqi atrocities" means car bombs, suicide bombs in Iraq (I know, what have these got to do with Pakistani's arrested in Manchester - well it must all be part of an international plot of jihadiloons, completely unrelated to Nicks favourite war). Its sad but I suppose inevitable that Nick ends up as dismissing lethal attacks on demonstrators as a "cock up" and saying terrorism means we must "get used" to people being arrested without evidence . I guess also that if he really does work for Private Eye then that magazine will be a lot less likely to have a go at the police over miscarriages of justice etc. in the future.

4/15/2009 04:17:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Why would you say so?

4/15/2009 07:41:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

What would you call them?A Blast...
Sorry Bruschetta, couldn't resist.

4/15/2009 07:48:00 PM  

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