Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Aaro rather has the Tories' number

Much can be forgiven in return for the phrase:

"beginning, ominously, with giving Frank Field the task of looking at history teaching"

My only quibble would be that the poster child for this touchy-feely-hand-in-the-bra "public services" rhetoric on the part of people who are still transparently ideologues and free-market nuts, is his esteemed colleague Michael Gove and this might have been mentioned. But all in all, a good article.

69 Comments:

Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

I felt pretty much the opposite to you for once. While Nick wrote a generally poor article in the Observer, he at least found the Tories' greatest weakness for me: their choice of friends in the European Parliament. Gay elephants and similar nonsense aside, that was really a terrible unforced error on Cameron's part.

Dave's colleague Rachel Sylvester also in the Times yesterday hit another serious Cameroonian weakness: his cabinet are all mates (and given that I'm not impressed by George Osbourne (sp? I'm trying to write this quickly, so no links), that's another strike against them).

DA on the third hand as it were seems to come up with a lot of waffle about 'Holby City Woman'. I found his opening para both sexist and ageist, "Why, she's a mere slip of a girl, by my chins!" So Tory candidates have names which more properly belong in Iris Murdoch novels. (A much funnier variation on this theme was Chris Dillow's supposition that Matthew D'Ancona probably thinks that anyone without punctuation in their surname is working class.) And what's wrong with a candidate having been a boxer? Seems to be a better qualification than being a 'researcher' for a political party or an MP. (Similar number of blows to the head, going by 'The Thick of It.')

OK, Big Dave does get some substance in there: I'm with him regarding abortion. But too much of his column is nudge nudge ad hominems. The real surprise from a columnist was Martin Kettle kicking Brown. Jackie Ashley on where New Labour went wrong (right back at the beginning) was good too.

7/29/2009 10:45:00 AM  
Anonymous dd said...

Martin Kettle kicking Brown is a surprise in the same way in which Sir Alex Ferguson having a go at Manchester City is a surprise, surely? Although unusually, Kettle's article is actually quite good on the specific subject of World War 1, bad idea.

What I like about Aaro's article is that he has apparently, at long last, remembered that the Tories are in fact Tories, not fluffy liberal innovative markets! kinder society communities! green!- ists. He forgot for a loooong time and half the Guardian staff seem to be racing towards unlearning this one.

7/29/2009 10:50:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Martin Kettle kicking Brown is a surprise in the same way in which Sir Alex Ferguson having a go at Manchester City is a surprise, surely?

Not quite. It's perhaps more like Cristiano Ronaldo expressing dissatisfaction with Manchester United not long before his transfer.

7/29/2009 11:04:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

I can't work Cohen on the Tories out at all, he seems to be for and against them at the same time. But anyway:

his cabinet are all mates (and given that I'm not impressed by George Osbourne (sp? I'm trying to write this quickly, so no links), that's another strike against them).

Indeed, Osborne is a total liability, but Cameron needs him, so either he'll have to sack his closest political ally, or he'll have to persevere with him no matter how many basic errors he makes. Osborne is also, by all accounts, one of the triumphalists Aaro is talking about, and that's why this is unlikely to be 1997 again, which GO thinks it is. The Cameron cabinet won't easily survive serious home office problems, for example, and blaming it on labour might work for Boris but it probably won't work naitonally.

7/29/2009 11:07:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

My theory is that Cameron knows Osborne is a crock but:

(a) nobody particularly cares at the moment anyway so electorally it doesn't matter ;

(b) he can't politically replace him with Kenneth Clarke this side of an election.

Afterwards, quite likely, George expects te appointment but walks into the same sort of room Joe Pesci did in Goodfellas.

7/29/2009 11:21:00 AM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

I can't work Cohen on the Tories out at all, he seems to be for and against them at the same time.

Proposition - he's got bored concern-trolling his old mates, and is now doing the same to his new ones. I doubt the Tories will be any more receptive.

7/29/2009 11:34:00 AM  
Anonymous belle le triste said...

if cameron:osborne is indeed a recap of blair:brown this is a weakness worth hammering at sooner rather than later: it's not as if there's *anyone* (friend or foe, i mean) who thinks the B:B marriage-of-convenience has worked out well

7/29/2009 11:47:00 AM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

it feels more like a recap of Blair:Milburn

7/29/2009 11:50:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

The opening line is a bit weird:

The election last week of the practically pubescent Chloe Smith

She's 27!

7/29/2009 02:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

organic cheeseboard:

Indeed, Osborne is a total liability, but Cameron needs him, so either he'll have to sack his closest political ally, or he'll have to persevere with him no matter how many basic errors he makes. Osborne is also, by all accounts, one of the triumphalists Aaro is talking about, and that's why this is unlikely to be 1997 again, which GO thinks it is. The Cameron cabinet won't easily survive serious home office problems, for example, and blaming it on labour might work for Boris but it probably won't work naitonally.

Agreed. New Labour's key players were bound by an ideological 'project'; Cameron's Tories may turn out to be a tightly-knit gang bound by a version of the public school/Oxbridge code of omerta (loved the Goodfellas ref. btw, ejh). Too many of them want it to be '1979 Reloaded' rather than 1997. They will get away with blaming Labour since all incoming governments get away with that for a while, but it'll look a little silly if what they end up offering is more of the same with bells on or (as one blogger put it) a nasty dose of 'Austerity Thatcherism'.

[redpesto]

7/29/2009 02:45:00 PM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

They will get away with blaming Labour since all incoming governments get away with that for a while, but it'll look a little silly if what they end up offering is more of the same with bells ...

Isn't that what Blair did, and he got away with it.

7/29/2009 04:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't that what Blair did, and he got away with it.

Tricky - I tend to think Iraq exposed him (or at least exposed the way he operated), though you're right in the sense that he managed to quit at (relatively speaking) his own convenience.

[redpesto]

7/29/2009 10:46:00 PM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

I meant that - like the Tories will do this time - he came to power on the wave of public disillusion in the sitting government, but all he offered and gave us was more of the same - Austerity Thatcherism for want of a better term.

Of course the modus operandi and raison d'etre of Blair was eventually rumbled, as will be Cameron (god that sounds a bit pretentious).

As you say, Cameron will probably get away with blaming Labour for the current economic situation, and use it to bring in swingeing cuts. But who to blame? Labour don't oppose the reign of the City - in fact they've actively promoted it. Who will make the case for for tax rises instead of spending cuts? Not Brown or Darling.

7/30/2009 07:39:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

I think I might have read this on splintered sunrise, or possibly septicisle, but i'm completely convinced by the idea that the main influence on the cameroons is Alastair Campbell's diary.

It looks like they're going to fall into the same trap as Blairism, which is, thinking that getting into power is the be-all and end-all of political success. I don't think Cameron is anywhere near as popular as Blair was before the 97 election, though, and the shadow cabinet is thoroughly dislikeable in general.

Going back to Aaro, although the Holby woman thing is truly patronising, there is a serious and interesting point underlying it, which is that no matter how many young, approachable women the tories sell themselves with, the shadow cabinet is as gender-imbalanced as the current Labour one and it'll remain that way for at least a few years, until the uneasy alliances start to fracture. and I'm not at all convinced by Aaro's talking-up of Oliver Letwin. he's always seemed like a tory diehard who will say whatever he needs to but will believe in Thatcherism til his dying day.

Also, I'm not at all sure that women in public sector jobs are going to be responsive to the Tories. They will, in general, be unionised, and they will have followed quite closely the cuts the tories are hinting at. Chloe smith seems like a real lightweight, too, notwithstanding her being patronised over her age.

Gay elephants and similar nonsense aside, that was really a terrible unforced error on Cameron's part.

and it shows that Europe is still the tory Achilles heel.

7/30/2009 08:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The question of Blair's reputation is interesting. For some people he is very dangerous: his behaviour over the invasion of Iraq showed that he is a very convincing con-man but really there is no limit to how far he would go in lying and deceit to get his own way. Other people, on the other hand, see this as a strength; to some extent they see Blair as an ideal politician (and indeed he sort of got away with it over Iraq).

I think that the current fondness for piling abuse on Gordon Clown McBottler one-eyed Broon is worrying, because deep down it is making fun of Brown's rather wooden performance as compared to Blair and Cameron. Blair and Cameron seem to me to be very plausible, but it tells us nothing about whether they tell the truth or make good decisions.

Guano

7/30/2009 08:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Der Bruno Stroszek said...

What are Cameron's approval ratings like, by the way? I've often wondered whether he's really more popular than the long list of commonly-accepted lame-duck leaders the Tories had during the Blair years, or whether he's just had the good fortune to have his turn at the wheel during a period where Labour are even more unpopular than his party.

7/30/2009 09:45:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Oliver Letwin turned up in another Aaro comment, in fact quite a notorious one, back in 2003.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2003/oct/12/schools.observerspecialbritainsschools

Which boils down to (and I don't think this is misleading)

"I'm better than Oliver Letwin in that at least I thought about sending my children to state schools, even though I didn't actually do so"

which is not a great argument, but one that isn't even supported by the column, as it's quite clear Aaro didn't really entertain the idea (at least after they were 11).

7/30/2009 12:15:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

What are Cameron's approval ratings like, by the way? I've often wondered...whether he's just had the good fortune to have his turn at the wheel during a period where Labour are even more unpopular than his party.

The media have already anointed him, which helps. It started with the lionisation that greeted his (gasp!) memorising a speech, and has now got to the point where they are collaborating in a transparent Hello-style publicity stunt, planned apology and all.

Apparently one of the freesheets mentioned the possibility that the mild swearing wasn't entirely inadvertent, but I haven't encountered any other mention of it even as a possbility - let alone a journo actually asking the direct question.

Leaving aside rather obvious aspects of the recording itself, I'm trying to think of the last time I heard anyone accidentally swearing without being pissed or involved in a thumb-hammering incident.

7/30/2009 04:03:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Ah the 'twat' thing was a transparently pre-planned 'joke' wasn't it? v poor. I dislike Christian O'Connell intensely, too, he's from the Dylan Jones charm school.

off topic, but really clearly of interest - Stephen Pollard on 'The Appeasers' in, of all places, the New york Times Book Review...

the United States is becoming as culpable as Europe, its liberal news media and college campuses willfully refusing to acknowledge the danger posed by radical Islam and opening their pages and seminars to those who seek the undoing of the very tenets that allow liberals — and everyone else — their freedoms.
[...]
Bawer is unquestionably correct, and that fact is quite simply ­terrifying.

7/30/2009 04:37:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

and Nick Cohen's comrade Hassan Butt has just been found guilty of... racist abuse.

http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/s/1128865_man_fined_over_racist_abuse

7/30/2009 05:05:00 PM  
Blogger Anglonoel said...

Sun Business Editor Ian King's opinion of David Cameron & his days working in PR for Carlton TV (The Sun 5th Dec 05):

'poisonous, slippery individual'

'smarmy bully who regularly threatened journalists who dared to write anything negative about Cameron- which was nearly all of us.'

From Larry Elliott & Dan Atkinson 'Fantasy Island' (p.73).

I agree with a point Spintered Sunrise made recently on his blog: Call Me Dave' is totally Media Class and that's why the Media Class love him & forgive him. Can you imagine the front-page condemnations if GB swore on the radio?

7/30/2009 05:51:00 PM  
Blogger Anglonoel said...

Sorry, that should have said 'anything negative about CARLTON'. Freudian slip maybe.

7/30/2009 05:55:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Call Me Dave' is totally Media Class and that's why the Media Class love him & forgive him.

Quite. And this chimes with what I was banging on about a few weeks ago as regards why the Blairites get a completely different sort of coverage to the Brownites.

7/30/2009 06:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've often wondered whether he's really more popular than the long list of commonly-accepted lame-duck leaders the Tories had during the Blair years, or whether he's just had the good fortune to have his turn at the wheel during a period where Labour are even more unpopular than his party.

Both. Hague may be a good public-school-style debater, but he was too much the young fogeywhen faced with Blair's more media-friendly skills. IDS: just plain awful. Howard: too scary, and too late (Blair was ready for him). Cameron learnt loads from Blair, and is indeed lucky enough to be the Tory leader when it all went pear-shaped for the government and facing Brown's less telegenic appeal.

[redpesto]

7/30/2009 09:39:00 PM  
Anonymous skidmarx said...

Off-topic, I don't know whether you've dealt with DA's interview with Mark D'Arcy on Booktalk on the BBC Parliament Channel last week,due to your lack of a search function. He gave one of two reasons why Muslims might believe 911 conspiracy theories as an "intellectual inferiority complex" and mentioned that David Icke thinks he's a reptile.

7/31/2009 10:18:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

wow, what an odd thing to say - the reason why some people in the muslim world believe in 9/11 conspiracy theories is *either* that Muslims believe themselves inherently more virtuous than america/Israel, *or* that Muslims per se have a 'deeply embedded inferiority complex' which means that they believe 'themselves' incapable of the ability to have commited sept 11th...

does he honestly think this passes for objective analysis? As i've thought for a while (and as many others have said on here), this is the problem with 'analyzing' conspiracy theories - you're only one step away from amateur psychological 'analysis', often of entire nations or religions...

and guess what, he goes back to the fallback of things being 'deeply improbable' (improbable, that is, according to Aaro, who also claims that he has 'earned the right to write the book' by patiently going over so many 'conspiracy theories').

Again he claims that his book belongs alongside Bad Science. But they're really very different things, aren't they?

7/31/2009 11:13:00 AM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

Yes they are. Also Goldacre, to his credit, is almost alone among "skeptics" and "debunkers" in having a go once in a while at people who are capable of fighting back.

7/31/2009 11:18:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

What did old Nick say about Hassan Butt? Ah yes: "Hassan Butt is a member of a group you are going to be hearing a lot more from: Muslims who come out of jihadism and find an almost patriotic belief in the best values of Britain. They cajole and they warn."

7/31/2009 11:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Goldacre examines the evidence for each case. Aaro's method is different; he debunks stories about moon landings, says that this is a case of a conspiracy theory, says that all conspiracy theories are therefore wrong, then says that accusing Blair of lying is a conspiracy theory so this accusation must be wrong. Aaro uses his debunking of one case to read across to completely different cases and say that they are wrong. Very bad science!

7/31/2009 12:05:00 PM  
Anonymous skidmarx said...

I did wonder if the phrase "earn the right to criticise" harked back to his communist upbringing.

Thanks to the person who pointed out to me that the search function is at the top of the page.I have a tape of the DA interview that I'll try to have another look at before taping over with something of more enduring value.

Ben Goldacre's book is good science in so many ways.I assume that anthing could in the DA book has been done better and funnier in John Sladek's "The New Apocrypha".

7/31/2009 02:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I once read "For the Good of the Cause" by Solzhenitsyn. My copy had an appendix which included an article written in response by some sort of high-up in the soviet literary establishment justifying the actions of the authorities in taking possession of the school.

As I read it, I began to get sucked in by his rationalisations. If I remember correctly, these had a "come on now, don't be hysterical - the authorities don't act out of malice, think of the bigger picture & trust them" slant. But then I thought "what is this man actually saying?", at which point it was clear that he was just defending the exercise of power by the soviet state against those with less power.

When I read aaro, I often think about that soviet official. It isn’t helped by the fact I know he was actually raised a commie which I assume creates a certain mindset, but I think it’s also that he fulfils the same role. His writing has the sense of someone who is quite deliberate in what they do and aware of their role in neutralizing criticism by ridiculing dissenters or kicking up dust to confuse the issues (someone here one described him as a ‘political hack’ vs cohen as a ‘journalist hack’).

Having said this, Chomsky once commented that despite their apparent opposition the Bolsheviks were similar to the Liberal anticommunists (centered around Kennedy) because of their antidemocratic belief in elite management of society. He also argues that there’s no need to tell key media personalities what to say because they there are structural biases towards conformity.

So, do commenters on here think that aaro believes what he says or is it more ‘political’ than that?

7/31/2009 04:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Saying things that are untrue, for the "greater good", is so common in politics that it is internalised and is no longer thought of as lying.

Guano

7/31/2009 04:57:00 PM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

Off topic, as usual - I'm starting to wonder if there are two Nick Cohens.

There's the Nick that hates the art world for its simplistic politics, and thinks words like "Pro-Islamist" and "Politburo" are appropriate for describing BBC productions of Spooks or Robin Hood for kids...

...And there's the Nick who writes lengthy articles attacking the art world for its lack of politics.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/aug/02/nick-cohen-arts-politics

Again, I feel I have to point out that Nick's work is much easier to understand if you bear in mind that at least half his output amounts to "Kids these days don't know they're born, not like when I were a lad".

8/02/2009 02:17:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

Hopefully he'll be fucked if this comes to pass

8/02/2009 08:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

Kids these days don't know they're born

Yes. My own instant reaction was "of course he thinks it's all been done before - he's pushing 50, and in that timescale it has all been done before". (I remember - surely no more than 30 years ago - the Graun review of a rather wild gig by the Pop Group. It quoted Robert Wyatt, who was in the crowd; he said it was all "very nostalgic".)

8/02/2009 08:54:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

though i think that's about right, it's not at all clear that he thinks it actually was much better when he was a lad. It's weird-i can't quite work out his point. Artists posture as opposing the govt because it shifts units? A no brainer. But his examples are uniformly awful. the band he cites as unfashionable-man and woman singer who both use the same stage surname-yes, so out of keeping with recent trends! And as for the novels? Money is a great book but it's not a satire on thatcher at all. The fact that it's also set in the usa is a bit of a giveaway. The line of beauty? Nick only seems to have seen the adaptation, much more caricatured than the novel, which was entirely about how seductive thatcher's system was-and how no matter how hard an "artist" tried to pretend otherwise, he or she was implicated in it-and might even have relied on it, and prospered from it, until the inevitable bust. Nick's elementary "spot the baddie" approach doesn't leave much room for that. Yet another example of his philistinism, then. And am i the only one who can't work out what point he's trying to make in any case?

8/02/2009 09:54:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

oh and one other thing-do decents really only have two novels-midnight's children and money-on their shelves? From the output of andrew anthony and nick, it does seem that way... Though aaro did ok on the book quiz eh.

8/02/2009 09:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

er, i mean the satanic verses, even though it's v much inferior to the earlier book. Cheeseboard

8/02/2009 10:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Dave Weeden said...

I couldn't see his point either. I was pleased that he squeezed in Coe, though his best book is "The Rotter's Club" set about 20 years before it was written, so in no way a commentary on contemporary politics.

I know that he's slagged off Brecht before, but he seems to approve of Brecht's ostensible aims, as if British theatre should be more Brechtian. Nick's position does seem philistine: the point of theatre isn't to understand politics better but to understand _people_ better. Theatre from Hamlet to Krapp's Last Tape is crap at raising consciousness but good at talking about feelings.

8/03/2009 05:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Der Bruno Stroszek said...

As ever, Nick's argument isn't that censorship, repression, totalitarianism et al are bad, it's that they would be much better if he was working the controls. His whole approach to art criticism is to make huge lists of work that is politically "unacceptable" versus that which is politically "acceptable", then he criticises other people for a "Politburo" mindset. This is, after all, someone who thinks that banning the works of Brecht from the British stage would be a protest against Stalinism, rather than an example of it.

8/03/2009 09:04:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

The other point about The Rotter's Club (a briliant book, I agree) is that it was followed up by a caustic satire on Blairism starring many of the original characters IIRC. Coe is no anti-tory leftie, and the Coe brothers are no upmarket Hitchens equivalents.

Theatre from Hamlet to Krapp's Last Tape is crap at raising consciousness but good at talking about feelings.

And raising consciousness about feelings, I guess.

I've been trying to piece together the logic of this Nick piece but I can't really. It goes something like:

In the 80s, all artists were opposed to Thatcher, and this was bad. Opposition to Thatcher has continued in art up to the present day, look at these inappropriate examples. these highbrow novels, as opposed to the job cuts, destruction of industry and abandonment ofentire communities in Britain, are the reason why people dislike the tories. But everyone in the arts world loves Ed Vaizey because he believes in art for art's sake. And the tories will be good for the arts world in general, even though there will still be some opposition.

That's it, isn't it? I find some of it really disingenuous. The 'teaching things that are relevant as opposed to good' is just fuddy-duddy nonsense, borne out of too long spent in the Private Eye offices where you have to oppose the teaching of things like postcolonial lit at GCSE (the fact that he seems to love Rushie doesn't strike him as ironic here, obviously). and the alternative - art for art's sake? I seem to remember that even Walter Pater didn't believe in that, and Wilde skewered it very neatly in Dorian Grey. and has Nick really bought into the idea that the tories aren't going to be just as interested in targets etc as NuLab are? and given that the other 'relevant' subject studied at GCSE and A-level is war literature, is he seriously suggesting getting rid of that?

off topic, but on Aaro topic - is he going to say anything about a conspiracy theory that's currently dominating the US media - the birther rubbish? Gary Younge has a good piece on it today, and this seems like a conspiracy that is being fully endorsed by senior news editors in the USA and is refusing to let the facts stand in its way. Does it fit into his framework? or is it only conspiracies that tehleftistz believe in that are the problem?

8/03/2009 09:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Guys,

you missed this bit from Cohen's latest,

'I spoke last week to the Indelicates, a magnificently unfashionable band, who told me with disdain that their contemporaries had seen how much money the Jam and the Clash had collected and were preparing to make the smart career move of becoming the voice of the next anti-Tory generation. "The political statements of these bands will be entirely unsurprising," they predicted. "Their information content will be zero." '

And what are the political statements of The Indelicates? (who they, Ed?)

http://indelicates.com/lyrics

from 'THE BRITISH LEFT IN WARTIME' (yes, it's really called that)


We'll have the biggest demonstration in human history
On the night that they drop the bomb
We'll write letters to the editors of leftist publications
On the night that they drop the bomb
Cause if we can't have a better world
Then at least can we be right?
Yeah we know we can't have a better world
But at least we can be right

and from 'AMERICA'

'When they pin me to the wall I'll say:
I'm with America
With godless America, I'll stand and I'll fall
Though it cuts me to my soul that
It must be America
It must be America
Or nothing at all.'

and the clincher

'I find myself a loner and I find myself bereft
I find myself agreeing with Bill O'Reilly more than the left.'

Yes, The Indelicates have set Nick Cohen's fantasies to music.

They're going to be massive!

8/03/2009 10:43:00 AM  
Anonymous orgainc cheeseboard said...

oh dear god, these lyrics are embarrassing:

The Popstars who write operas and make fatuous remarks
The theory-quoting upstarts who snort fair-trade coke in parks


bwahahaha! it's like a shit, right-wing version of Luke Haines... and they've released a book of poems too.

8/03/2009 11:04:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

And look here:

http://arts.hurryupharry.org/2009/07/24/the-indelicates/

late July 2009... wonder where Nick heard about them?

they're really not very good. singer says:

It addressed what I saw as a distressing tendency among the British, middle-class left to view the world entirely through an ill thought out and fatuous anti-Americanism. It had, as its chorus, the assertion that ‘with godless America’, I would ‘stand and fall’.

8/03/2009 11:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...

Just noticed Nick's fondness for "quietly".

Leftish arts administrators quietly admit that with state schools wasting so much time teaching literature that is "relevant" rather than good, the only politicians they meet who believe in art for art's sake are ex-public school boys.

12th July:
At the last count, the Department for Work and Pensions said that a mere 7,100 18- to 24-year-olds had been unemployed for one year or longer. Now ministers are quietly predicting that long-term youth unemployment will increase 14-fold.

2nd November 2008:
In Britain, academics talk of expelling mainly Muslim science students. They do not make a fuss about it in case post-modern relativists in the mould of Steve Fuller accuse them of religious discrimination, but say, very quietly, that if religion stops their students accepting evolution, there is no point in them staying at university.

It's a good defence against critics - Of course you haven't heard anyone saying that - they're saying it quietly!

8/03/2009 11:33:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

as a distressing tendency among the British, middle-class left to view the world entirely through an ill thought out and fatuous anti-Americanism.

If one were looking for things "ill-thought-out" and "fatuous", the terms "middle-class left" and "anti-Americanism" might be a good place to start.

8/03/2009 12:00:00 PM  
OpenID splinteredsunrise said...

Holy piss, HP Sauce set to music? Arts critic really isn't Nick's metier, is it?

Aaro, as ever, is a bit of a transgressive Decent in that he gives the impression of having read some novels other than Midnight's Children and Money. Mind you, on the ep of the Book Quiz I saw, I got the impression that Daisy Goodwin was answering all the questions and Aaro was spending most of the show staring at her tits. Or maybe that was just me.

8/03/2009 11:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Der Bruno Stroszek said...

'I spoke last week to the Indelicates, a magnificently unfashionable band, who told me with disdain that their contemporaries had seen how much money the Jam and the Clash had collected and were preparing to make the smart career move of becoming the voice of the next anti-Tory generation."

Er, didn't Paul Weller vote for Thatcher in 1979? That's another Decent characteristic they seem to have: being completely shit at factchecking.

8/04/2009 07:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Der Bruno Stroszek said...

Oh God, I just found an interview:

http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/the-kids-arent-alright-an-interview-with-the-indelicates/

Handpicked gems:

I was supposed to be Prime Minister — and I would have been, too if it hadn’t been for you pesky Indie kids.

Yeah, I’m intelligent as fuck. I hate fun, I hate dumbness, and I always write from a thinking man’s perspective because I am one. Given all the complexities and threats to liberty in the world, I hardly think that dumb fun is what anybody needs right now.

Thirties socialites who fall in love with Hitler are a good metaphor for young people in Brighton who don’t realise that they’re fascists.
(Burchill? Ed)

Criticising other people for smugness in a smug way, confusing the notions of "right-wing" and "common sense", joyless misanthrophy - The Indelicates are everything I hate about Britain in one fat-faced package.

8/04/2009 07:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...

Er, didn't Paul Weller vote for Thatcher in 1979?

"Who loves the Queen and who votes Tory?
Come on, joker, tell us a story"
- Marc Riley, "The bard of Woking"

8/04/2009 08:04:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Well, let's not be too hard on them. After all, 'Julia Indelicate' is really called Julia Clark-Lowes, and given that she's from Brighton it seems likely that she is related to Francis Clark-Lowes, former chair of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, who's previously been 'outed as an anti-semite' by HP Sauce and who seems to be connected to that dodgy-looking think tank run by Rizzo and Atzmon. with earlier generations of your family like that...

however, it's a bit embarrassing for the Decent fans of the Indelicates that the song HP Sauce highlighted, the one about how great America is, actually came out a year and a half ago, mind you. And despite the singer saying this:

Razorlight’s astoundingly graceless song of the same title

the Indelicates song actually succeeds at being even more boneheaded and graceless than the Razorlight song, which i genuinely didn't think could be surpassed for awfulness.

Arts critic really isn't Nick's metier, is it?

no, but bless him, he does try. Actually, scratch that, he doesn't try at all. Hence only ever talking about Rushdie and Amis, two utterly spent forces, having seemingly only read one book by either.

Incidentally, i left a post on his website asking why, if he's so keen on art for art's sake and removing the 'relevance' approach to arts-teaching in Britain, he promotes a band whose only new idea is to parrot the ideas of Nick Cohen - ie he clearly likes them because of, shock horror, their 'relevance' to him.

And the fact that both singers go on about how much they love cohen all the time can't hurt, either. Increasingly, Nick seems to only write positive things about people who've already outspokenly declared their admiration for his work. Well, that, or he misrepresents them colossally like he did with last week's mathmo.

On Aaro and the arts - I guess the book quiz is not a particularly good acid test, because almost every answer is either auden or hughes since they're the only poets the researchers can be bothered to find BBC sound clips of. I think Aaro sensibly leaves off going too far into arts criticism since it's not really his job, is it? it's not cohen's either, but hey. Incidentally, if the Obs goes under, where will he go?

8/04/2009 08:15:00 AM  
Anonymous belle le triste said...

not entirely OT: i found myself being supplied choice m.jackson rarities* via young person's pirate MP3 last night by one "Christopher Hitchens"

*i needed them for an important urgent project, ok!! stop bugging me!!!

8/04/2009 10:07:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

i needed them for an important urgent project, ok

and Chas Newkey-Burden is currently writing a biography of MJ. Coincidence?

8/04/2009 10:36:00 AM  
Anonymous belle le triste said...

fly all is known

8/04/2009 10:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

C N-B is in fact an elaborate hoax concocted by BLT? That actually makes a bit of sense.

CW

8/04/2009 10:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Indelicates make this band

http://www.nme.com/blog/index.php?blog=121&title=the_video_that_made_me_laugh_until_i_cri&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1

seem modest.

8/04/2009 11:35:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Sorry if someone's already made this point, but I think it would be hard to sustain the argument that popular music has been anti-American in any time period, wouldn't it?

8/04/2009 12:17:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

But Matthew, that would rely on a sane definition of anti-American. It's not just about liking some American things, it's about liking the right American things. Where does Harry's Place stand on Springsteen?

Let's all write some Indelicates-type songs.

Oi Barry!, where's your birth certificate?

Verse = title sung four times; Chorus, same as verse but shoutier. Repeat whole thing twice and end with a 45 minute drum solo.

Send Gary McKinnon to the U-S-A [yeah!]

I can't be bothered writing lyrics to this either, perhaps You should do the time where you did the crime.

CAPTHA: bugur I really think they're on to us, you know.

8/04/2009 03:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It isn't fair to judge the Indelicates just by their lyrics - thats something Nick does himself with art, just judging it by where it stands as propaganda, and not paying any attention to its aesthetic effects - not talking about how paintings look, the drama in plays, or how music sounds. So in fairness, you need to look at the lyrics and music together. Except, oh dear, instead of having something exciting and strident , the Indelicates have avoided brash synthesizers, choppy guitars, guttural bass and settled for a jingly jangly indy sound . Bland would be a complement. As strident as a sparrows fart

8/04/2009 04:20:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

I think we need to refer Nick to the third chapter of Inside The Whale on this one.

8/04/2009 04:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shall we open a book on where Nick C will find employment - if anywhere - after the Observer is shut down? My bets are on the Telegraph. But then, he was sacked by the Standard... even the right are a bit tired of his spiel by now I'd have thought...

8/05/2009 01:28:00 AM  
Blogger Alex said...

I hadn't checked in here, and you seem to have discovered the worst band ever. Call Simon Price, and he can kill the NME by trying to promote them for a bet like he did with the Melody Maker.

Those lyrics really are embarrassingly bad, but they do contain information. Note all the ranting about writing to leftist publications "on the night they dropped the bomb" - when they presumably desperately wanted the bomb dropping. All that projection, eh.

There's possibly a need for an article on the role of Brighton in Decency; it's the second city, after all.

8/05/2009 08:43:00 AM  
Anonymous saucy jack said...

An article on the role of Brighton in producing absolutely crap bands would also be welcome. Given its endless self-preening, huge student population and the number of live music venues it possesses, you need a real knack for underachievement to produce nothing better than the Piranhas over a 50 year period.

8/05/2009 09:38:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

British Sea Power live there now, and they're pretty good. decent DJs too - Luke Slater, Adam Freeland, and (for a while in the early to mid-90s) Norman Cook.

Brighton is just Islington-on-Sea, isn't it, which is why it will both get it in the neck from Decents as the symbol of 'evil liberal culture' while also containing a fairly high percentage of Decents in its population. cos they're nothing if not self-hating.

since simon Price does the music for the sindie now, maybe he can kill the second of two 'liberal sundays'.

8/05/2009 10:14:00 AM  
Blogger cian said...

There's possibly a need for an article on the role of Brighton in Decency; it's the second city, after all.

Fairly insignificant I would think. A couple of bloggers, Oliver Kamm and that's about it. And Oliver Kamm's not a decent, he fits nicely into Hove's Cameronites.

Brighton is just Islington-on-Sea, isn't it

Unless you mean Islington 30 years ago (with the rough/poor bits included), not really. You could make a better case for it being Notting Hill by the sea, though that does rather exclude the sizable gay/lesbian populations, surfer dudes, hippies, new agers and designer/web 2.0 population. Stereotypes it has plenty of, its just they're not terribly homogenous (though a shared taste for hedonism in the loosest sense is probably the city's sole unitary property).

8/05/2009 01:19:00 PM  
Blogger Gregor said...

'even the right are a bit tired of his spiel by now I'd have thought...'

Uh, you mean he lacks the freshness and intellectual vitality of Richard Littlejohn or Melanie Phillips? I'm no fan of the guy but providing xenophobic, warmongering, anti-liberal hate-filled cliches that the political right find boring would be quite an achievement. Have they tired of the one about Al Gore's non-existent claims to have invented the internet yet? Think it must be almost a year since I last saw that one.

8/05/2009 03:40:00 PM  
Anonymous hellblazer said...

ejh - are you suggesting that an acolyte of Saint George of Orwell actually *reads* what EAB wrote? That'd never do... next you'll be saying that the Decents should have read Notes on Nationalism...

(Disclaimer: I like Inside The Whale, needless digs at 30s poets aside, but haven't reread it recently.)

8/06/2009 08:32:00 AM  
Anonymous hellblazer said...

Talk of Brighton and BSP has now brought to mind the image of La Burchill heckling the band next time they break out "Waving Flags". (To be fair, it's not their best, but that's largely unrelated to the admirable sentiment of getting hammered with the Poles)

8/06/2009 08:37:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

I was kidding about the birth certificate song.

8/08/2009 06:45:00 PM  

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