Wednesday, May 31, 2006

So that's what it's for.

"To the Euston Station. The other day I went to the vast Union Chapel in Islington for the launch of the Euston Manifesto, which is an attempt to shake the Left out of its blind anti-Americanism."
Nick Cohen, Evening Standard 31/5/2006

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Christopher Hitchens Newsnight.30th May 2006

The Dude has just drawn attention to a previously unknown reason (to me anyway) for the Iraq fiasco. Apparently if The US and it's coalition partners hadn't invaded Iraq then Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia would have invaded.

The Sun Shines Only Half The Day, But You, Comrade Alan (not the Minister) Shine All Night Too

Dave is away in India (oh please tell me he is there to write something about intolerance between Hindus and Muslims, not to launch a "World Is Flat" article about globalisation). So I'm left with nothing to Watch except cheap shots at the Euston Manifesto crowd (haven't we given up on this yet? nope. does this mean we think it's really really important? In the somewhat limited sphere of anti-war British blogs, yes).

Some of the AW crowd had been thinking of writing a piece comparing the EM crowd to some of the more hilarious encomia written to Lenin and Stalin while they were alive ("Comrade Norm was cheered to the echo as he outlined the triumph of the Five Year Plan" etc). However there is no need, when you have stuff like this, from "Fisking Central".

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.

Emphasis in original. Sorry guys but if you are going to call yourselves "Fisking Central" and build your site around being the kings of logical hard-edged analysis, then a piece of breathless nut-riding like this is bound to pick up some comment.

If there are any other members of A"NTM"J's personality cult out there maybe you could do a guest editorial for us; the email address is to the left.

In related news, as a correspondent points out:

[...]where the Euston train's headed nobody knows, but there's talk of getting Paul Berman involved in June and a meeting planned on Darfur for September (details to follow).

I can hear the aid workers in Darfur now; "hold on lads! hang in there! only three and a bit more months and the Euston Manifesto Group will have worked out a position!".

Monday, May 29, 2006

My computer can handle the load

Nick's Observer latest contains the following puff for the EM:

The Euston what? Come now, surely you must have heard of it. There have been 300,000 mentions of it on the internet and it has provoked rave reviews and splenetic denunciations in the mainstream press. If you don't believe me, type 'Euston Manifesto' into Google and see if your computer can cope with the workload.

It is now Monday morning. The Euston Manifesto grand public launch was on Friday evening. It is possible to sort Google News by date. Since the launch there have been many mentions of Euston, but most concern repairs to the railways and the inevitable delays faced by passengers. There has only been one (1) mainstream press mention of the Euston Manifesto recorded by Google News: Nick Cohen's own article in which he invites us to be impressed by the Google results.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Financial News Tonight

According to Normblog, the collection at the Euston Manifesto launch raised £1200. Since I know that all those guys are really, really keen on proper record keeping for organisations that raise money from the public, I will be looking forward to having a look at the accounts of the EM group when they are filed.


AW roving reporter "Balsamic Babe" sends in this dispatch!

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.

Thanks very much, Balsamic! I still have one other contributor to chase up, but if you were there and have comments, we'd love to hear 'em!

(btw, I have sworn blood oaths to keep Balsamic Babe's identity secret, so please don't ask as a refusal often offends).

Euston manifesto launch coverage will be here soon enough, don't worry

Just give me a little bit of time to check a couple of things. Meantime, here's the liveblogging of it. It sounds like a real laff riot. O cultural relativism, O mores.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


Remember when people used to discuss the significance of who was standing next to whom as the missiles trundled by outside Lenin's mausoleum on Mayday? Well the Wikipedia entry on the Euston Manifesto now incorporates a pic of the launch event (click and click again for larger versions). Alan Not The Minister is at one end with Norm at the other and Nick in the centre (looking surprisingly portly and balding compared to his usual publicity photos). Filling in the gaps are Eve Garrard and Shalom Lappin. There's definitely a Mel P lite flavour to those selected for the high table. I liked the gothic background!

Ombudsman to Aaro: nice try

Read all about it. I maintain my theory that Aaro and Wheen most likely got caught up in this one because they are mates of Emma Brockes, but they must be ruing the day that they hitched their wagon to Oliver Kamm's own somewhat idiosyncratic jihad against Uncle Noam. Key quote from the Ombusdman:

In his Times column (14/3/06) David Aaronovitch wrote, 'Johnstone, certainly, and Chomsky, implicitly, had most certainly denied the massacre'. Even if you agree with this interpretation of Chomsky's views, and Chomsky and many others deny that extremely vehemently, implication is not 'direct and unambiguous", to use the words of the complainants.

We retain our own view (or at least I retain mine; I don't know why I'm pretending that AW has a single authorial voice. All the other contributors might think that post was an embarrassing piece of shit for all I know but they haven't said so yet. Thanks to Matthew for the heads up).

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Picking over the rubble?

A very fine spot by Marc Mullholland of Kathederblog, pointing out that despite being a signatory of the Euston Manifesto, Nick finds it hard to resist "picking over the rubble" from time to time. In the piece already Watched below on government consultants, we have the following two asides, meant to illustrate the incompetence and venality of the politicians:

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

Nick's past articles on Hutton have been slightly nuanced; he didn't buy the whole Harry's Place/Oliver Kamm bill of goods that it was a complete exoneration, but he did come up with the priceless paragraph:

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.

But this stuff about building democracy in Iraq "failing on a grand scale"? Nick, as a very wise man once said ...

"If Iraq becomes a democracy, the consequences for the rest of the Middle East would be profound. If it becomes a basket case, then people like me will owe the world an apology."

you should listen to Aaro, Nick, he's often quite good.

Reading List

In respect of Aaro's column today (which is worth a read, if only because I am sure one of you guys will spot something I have missed), all I can really do is avoid pleonasm by repeating by citation some previous observations of ours from 2005.

Aaro in the mist, by Rioja Kid, on Dave's seeming inability to get into the mind of the Times reader.

For people who don't like Tony Blair, may I suggest Tony Blair?, by me, on the cult of youth and power in Aaro's aesthetic politics.

Peter Wilby's Evening Standard media column, on the frequent lack of success of high profile columnists who move out of their natural environment.

O tempora, O Aaro, have we really not progressed any more than this? Are we still repeating the battles of last year? Apparently the new identity Dave is creating for himself is that he is the voice of the "Progressives" of both right and left, contra the "Forces Of Conservatism" ([c] Tony Blair, 1999), represented by … The Times newspaper. In other words, he has taken over the Simon Jenkins "mindless contrarianism slot" and is determined to fill it. Can a knighthood be far off?

I notice that Aaro's new progressive alliance of right and left does not seem to require a manifesto.

By the way, if you have a ticket for the Real World Launch of the Euston Manifesto (I have a mental picture of Nick, Alan "Not the Minister" Johnson and Norman Geras being catapaulted out of a Decent cave, out into the real world, blinking and gasping and saying "but this place is fucking horrible!"), and you're in a satirical frame of mind, we would just looove to print any scurrilous gossip or alternative views of the event.

Update Thanks and thanks. We now have two AW "roving reporters". Obviously we are still in the market for more. I will even donate a prize of one copy of Paul Berman's "Terror and Liberalism" to the best writeup.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Episode MCXII: in which a co-author of the Euston Manifesto warns against "wishful thinking"

One thing that is worse than Nick saying something stupid is when he says something that you think is basically right, because he almost immediately puts it in service of something stupid. So today, for example, Nick is bashing postmodernism (hooray!) but the antidote is, unfortunately, the common sense of the lay listener: "sentiments you always suspected were silly when you heard them on Radio 4." Well Nick, lots of things sound silly to the average Radio 4 listener: quantum physics and general relativity for two, and, in its time, the evolution by natural selection that you rightly defend against the ID crowd. So let's get it right: what's wrong with the PoMo crowd is that they deny (on principle) that there are facts of the matter in many domains where there are such facts: everything is just a "text", "socially constructed" etc. Which gets them into knots where stuff like Holocaust denial comes up.

Nick, moves immediately from PoMo-bashing to a diatribe against wishful thinking. This might lead the casual reader to get the idea that Nick thinks that wishful thinking "believing that what you would like to be true is true because the world would be better if it were" is a defining mark of the PoMo. But whether or not Nick thinks that, it can't be true, since PoMos put "true" in inverted commas, or if not, mean it "ironically" or some variation thereon. Someone who believes Satan is real (like George W. Bush) may or may not be guilty of wishful thinking, but their conviction that Satan is real differentiates them pretty sharply from PoMos.

So it's pretty mad to segue from PoMos to animal rights protestors. After all animal rights people presumably believe that, well, animals have rights, and that those rights aren't merely a matter of "social construction", they really do have them, it is true (in a non-ironic sense) to say that they have them etc etc etc. All of which bypasses Nick, because he (a) hates PoMos and (b) hates animal rights people, so (c) wants to write a column linking the two.

Incidentally, isn't it a bit rich for someone who believes that Iraq stands on the edge of being a functioning democracy to complain about "believing that what you would like to be true is true because the world would be better if it were". Oh well. "If you wanted to take on daydreamers whose make-believe world urgently needs dissecting, the animal rights movement would be this week's obvious choice." As the authors of the Euston Manifesto will, no doubt, be next week's?

bruschettaboy adds: it is also bloody bad luck for poor old Nick that the "believing that what you would like to be true is true" column happened to come out in the week that NCP Car Parks decided to make a complaint pointing out that about 50% of the famous "Islington Traffic Wardens" piece was cobbled together from half-truths and urban myths.

Friday, May 19, 2006

The Marf of the Sarf

Here's Nick in the Standard, partying like it's 1995. The fat cat managers, newly privatised utilities, baggy suits and I was young then, I had hair, don't you understand? You don't understand. None of you young ones, none of you understand.

Sorry where was I? Doing an impression of Euan Ferguson's column in the Observer. Sorry about that.

Anyway, after having expressed scepticism about the weather reports (wtf?), transcribed a few numbers from press releases about water leaks and made a joke about the Mafia, Nick gets onto the meat of his column:

If New Labour doesn’t intervene to cap water company profits and speed up the pipe repair programme,

(bruschettaboy notes: what the fuck? One doesn't have to be Milton Friedman to notice that capping the water company's profits is a very different thing from speeding up the pipe repair program, and that it is not obvious to say the least what the connection between the first and the second is. Update: because we are all about fairness here, a specific situation has occurred to me under which capping profits could lead to more investment. Under a rate-of-return regulatory regime, a reduction in the rate might lead to the company investing more in order to expand the capital base on which the return was calculated. But the UK has not used RoR regulation for more than ten years. See comments.)

what faint chance it has of winning the South next time will vanish.

Oh god he does psephology too. The best you can say about this forecast is that he made it in black and white. There's not much else. It's loony populism of the Daily Mirror circa 1995 and it's barking mad. I think that the idea just went through Nick's head that it was time to be a lefty again and so he just reached out and took a swipe at the first thing he saw.

Various other potboiling stuff about footballers' wives, wind farms and that bloke who got interviewed on News 24, if you can be bothered to click the link.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

You bastard!

Norman Geras on the Euston Manifesto:

Leaving aside criticism of an infantile kind, a common line of objection has been that the manifesto is made up of well-meaning platitudes and its strictures against others on the left are not widely applicable - though this has been expressed with a degree of agitation and animus that suggests that one, other or both of these things can't be entirely true.

(UPDATE: more of the same "The fact that you squeal when I hit you proves I was right to hit you" nonsense in the Times today.

Well I'm sorry for being infantile in this post, but good grief! I'm sure there's some Peter Cook and Dudley Moore dialogue that would be up to this ....

Euston: "You bastard! You complete cunt!

Left: (bemused): Are you talking to me?

Euston: "You fucking fucking bastard cunt!"

Left: I say old chap, steady on there!

Euston: Fuck off, you are Saddam's catamite!

Left: I jolly well am not you nasty man!

Euston: You are expressing yourself with a degree of agitation and animus that suggests that my strictures against you are justified, you bastard!


Aaro protects the human

Dave, on the Human Rights Act. In the struggle for democracy and civil rights, you can count on Dave to render all possible assistance short of actually helping. I suspect that some readers will see this as "a not bad Aaro column", because he does appear to come down on basically the right side, but you have to look at it in the context of Dave's whole journalistic Ouevre.

This is Aaronovism as aesthetic politics; he is in favour of the European Convention on Human Rights, not because of any specific rights it provides, but rather because it is "an inspiring piece of legislation". On any specific detail, of course, there are arguments on both sides, and we must consider the public good as well as the selfish individual and his rights, there are hard choices to make and perhaps our leaders have it right after all etc etc etc and on to eternity.

I notice that there is one statement Aaro makes for which he is actually his own counterexample:

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

Aaro is of course, the Mr ASBO of the British Left and has boasted of the fact in the past. The Anti Social Behaviour Order can certainly curtail someone's freedom of expression and subject them to more or less arbitrary detention (at the very least, it can put someone in prison for doing something which is not itself an imprisonable offence). An interim ASBO can be placed against someone without a fair trial. Dave has not, as a matter of verifiable fact, noticed this.

If Dave is a "latish convert to the struggle for democracy and freedom", he certainly lacks the typical zeal of the convert. I don't think he is, not really. He's switched from one Big Brother to another, without ever really changing the core of his politics. Freedom and democracy really are "symbolic" to him.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Who will turn up?

Nick will be addressing the ICA this coming Wednesday evening on the subject "Does Truth Matter?" alongside Simon Blackburn and Jeremy Stangroom. Meanwhile, most of the rest of the population will be watching the Arsenal take on Barcelona in the final of the European Cup. Ronaldinho or Nick, what a choice ...

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Congratulations to "Ming Campbell has never been asked a difficult question"!

Another Golden Groundhog awarded this week, I think, to this old friend of AW, on the occasion of what I think is its fifth appearance in a Nick Cohen column.

The main piece is bog standard Harry's Place "Islamophobia? Moi? But there are very serious questions to be asked about this gutter religion of terrorists, and a backlash is inevitable from decent white liberal Europeans if our concerns are not addressed!". It is apparently considered impolite or unserious to mention that this is very similar indeed to the current campaigning line of the British National Party (and of course, any smear by association would be just as silly and groundless as it was when Aaro tried to do it to Mearsheimer & Waltz), but the facts are what they are. The "Eustonians" (god fucking help us) are very good at turning a complete blind eye to the fact that they are engaged in a kind of rhetoric that has serious, real consequences; in domestic politics as in international relations, their sheer moral Decency acts as a kind of liberal flak-jacket that protects them from any practical consequences of anything they do or say.

Meanwhile, in attempting to keep the Euston Manifesto in the public eye, Nick has now, by citation, brought the entire ouvre of Norman "not Johnson" Geras on topic for Aaronovitch watch. I know a few Watchers have been waiting eagerly for thsi moment so go for it guys. Apparently the EM is a "statement of the obvious"; who knew?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

There is a nasty rumour going round ...

... that Aaro is going to be appearing as a panelist tonight on BBC4's punctuation related quiz, "Never Mind The Full Stops".

Thieving bastards!

I feel a little conflicted about Nick's latest because all my sympathies are with him and against management consultants. However ... my admittedly limited experience suggests that teams of consultants who get overpaid by public sector managements (a) don't get paid so much in total that their take undermines the functioning of the sector as a whole and (b) that their advice is almost never causally implicated in decisions: managements employ them to legitimate the decisions they want to take anyway. So I'm pretty sure there's a hefty dose of bollocks about this column, even though it is bollocks that succeeds in making me feel all warm and indignant. Where are the numbers?

Nick also seems to think that it is wrong and somehow contaminating to have outsiders take part in public sector decisions. Well I agree that providing opportunites to hucksters and profiteers to benefit from their own advice is a bad thing, I've seen enough episodes of Yes Minister to think that leaving it all in the hands of the civil servants might not be ideal either.

Nick writes:

[New Labour's] tragedy, and the reason for its repeated failure, is that it has never understood how business works.

Which suggests that there is some X that Nick understands and which New Labour doesn't. I doubt it. Besides, I can think of a few more plausible candidates for "New Labour's tragedy" than overpaying GPs and cost overruns on computer systems.

BTW is it really true, as Nick suggests, that all the NHS computer problems could have been solved if only ministers had had a quiet word with Stelios and borrowed the Easyjet booking system? Readers with more expertise that I possess are invited to comment.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

early doors Aaarowatch

straight out of the gate; if anyone wants to Watch this one properly go for it:

A few quick notes:

1. "Pink mermaids" and "hoo ha". I've noted before that when Dave is short of an argument, he reaches for the PG Wodehouse, haven't I? What a prize chump the blighter is, it fair makes me want to hurl a bread roll.

2. Look me in the eye and tell me that the couple of paragraphs taking the piss out of Neal Lawson for writing a dull "manifesto" full of meaningless platitudes isn’t a proxy war aimed at another Manifesto that Dave hasn't signed?

3. Aaro you Can Not Do Economics. Please Don't Try. It may be that Neal Lawson's plan for a European Social Model with British Characteristics doesn't add up. But it's not as if your own breathless adoption of the Thomas Friedman "The World Is Flat" thesis adds up to a whole lot more. In this article you've been simultaneously against tax-and-spend, then for it. Then you told us how, in an afternoon in Barking, you realised that "People and Jobs Are Moving More Rapidly". Then we get some factoid about foreign students, but now it's a "challenge" that we have to "react" to.

This is the "status quo is no longer an option" Aaro, back and invigorated by the marathon no doubt. The only enemy is "stasis", which means that you "can't compete with economies that are more dynamic". I strongly suspect that Aaro could not, if pressed, give a specific definition of what he means by the key words "stasis" and "dynamic", and this is a problem. In general, the word "dynamic" should always be a red flag in any economic journalism or comment; it is typically used in contexts where is actually only has the content "economies which have recently been successful", but in which is looks like it is an intrinsic quality of economic systems which explains their success. The etymology almost certainly has more to do with the Dynamic Duo than with Bellman's fundamental equation of dynamic programming. In other words, someone saying "Freedonia succeeds because of its dynamic economy" is trying to disguise the fact that they have no theory of Freedonia's economic success with a sneaky tautology. And someone saying "we have to compete with the dynamic economy of Freedonia" is combining a non-theory of Freedonian growth with an incorrect theory about whether Freedonia's "dynamism" is something that requires a particular course of action from us.

Finally, after ploughing through six turgid paragraphs of directionless "whither Britain, in this world of Chinese undergraduates" Globollocks, can anyone suspect otherwise than that the sub's headline "Change of direction . . . new agenda . . . Oh, save us from these wild witterings" was a cry for help?

Update: Timothy O'Leary? Is Dave talking about the guy who took acid with Aldous O'Huxley, Paul O'McCartney and Hunter S O'Thompson ?

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Congratulations to the "Islington Traffic Wardens" piece!

Congratulations to the "Traffic Wardens in Islington are Overenthusiastic And There Will Be A Middle Class Revolt" piece, which has this week won the "Golden Groundhog" Long Service Award, on the occasion of its fifth (at least) printed appearance in a Nick Cohen column.

In related news, apparently "multiculturalism" made people vote BNP; apparently if you allow brown people to talk about their culture, white people will also want their own culture, and that is the BNP. WTF? Don't ask me. Perhaps we should follow the French model of ignoring all differences, because Lord knows it's not as if far-right politics are important in France.

More namechecks for "Searchlight"; this is becoming a bit of a trend. I have to say that in my personal opinion, Searchlight are really not all that. They have talked a fine line of crap about "Combat 18" over the years and on the few things they have written about where I have something close to first hand knowledge, I have not been impressed by their research.

btw, do any of our readers who are RESPECT members have any opinions about Nick's assertion that your councillors are useless? He seems to be lacking in specifics there.

And finally ... if you are going to berate people for using the hackneyed "Titanic" metaphor, ask the subs to put a bit of space between that bit and the one where you refer to people from Islington as "bruschetta-eaters" who go to dinner parties, eh softlad?

Saturday, May 06, 2006

the Rise of the BNP

We said it was inevitable and it was, though in a newsy piece for the Saturday Times rather than the Tuesday col. Pervaded with the air of "will this do?" that tends to characterise Dave's non-opinion journalism, and as far as I can see the analysis there is more or less a transcription of John Cruddas' views. Slightly weird that the explanation given for the popularity of the BNP is the "disintegration of the community" caused by the inability of young Barkingonians to buy houses in the ancestral demesne - this is after all London that we are talking about, not the highland crofts.

I suspect that the subs have had a go at this one as Aaro's title "A Very British Insurrection" tantalisingly suggests that he might have had a more interesting theory of what was going on there. Personally I think it's quite straightforward; this is the first election the Tories have fought for some time where the dog-whistle music has been "we are a political party for normal human beings" rather than "if you don't like brown people vote for us". The BNP's support is from "working class Tories", who are always given ludicrously too much respect for their patriotism, traditional values and salt-of-the-earth common guvnoriness. Rather like "traditional East End villains", they are actually nasty, small, stupid bigots. There is nothing to be gained in "addressing their concerns", because their concerns are that they don't like brown people, and nothing to be lost in "demonising them as racists", because they are racists, which is why they voted for a racist party (try not to chuckle when New Labour politicians claim "a lot of people don't know what the BNP stand for", btw). In the opinion of this bruschettaboy, the political classes of Britain should get together, consider the issues and send a clear message to the self-identified "white working class", and that message should be "Kiss My Arse".

Friday, May 05, 2006

Nick's Back!!

Oh yes he is! (see comments to post below; thanks to anonymous user).

So, Friday forecasts:

Nick, Sunday: Even money, Euston Manifesto or local elections

Aaro: surely it can't be another week on "the rise of the BNP" I think it can

Nick, Standard: Also, rise of the BNP. perhaps with a "blame the middle class left" angle, perhaps not. I'm going for the tricast on this one.

Surrounded by the enemy

Just a brief note that both Hampstead Town (where Dave lives) and Gospel Oak (Dave's ancestral homeland where he was brought up) both now return three Tory councillors to the London Borough of Camden.

Dave is in a hole and should stop digging

He is manfully trying to defend the proposition that there is nothing odd or improper with coming home from a memorial service for war dead, and saying the equivalent of "thank god that's over, now let's fuck". He is having a whale of a time suggesting that we are all sexually hung up and squaresville for thinking there is.

A simple thought experiment will sort this one out.

If, prior to this revelation, somebody on the AW site had written "I think it is quite likely that members of the Blair government just stood there at the Iraq memorial service, muttered their way through the hymns, then just went straight home and fucked their secretaries", do you think Dave would have said "yes, you're probably right, not that there's anything wrong with that, it's the sort of thing we'd all do if we had a central London apartment and a willing secretary". Or do you think he would have said "that is a vile and unbelievably offensive calumny"?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Can there be a Decent Decentism?

Wandering off the reservation in line with the general project of "if it's Decent, it's ontopic"[1], here's a not at all bad article by Brian Brivati on the Guardian blog. It is notable in the annals of Decency in that a) it at least argues the case why the normal UN process can't suffice any more and b) it doesn't leap to the solution that what we need is a bloody big war. I don't agree with it at all, but it is much more serious than a lot of the stuff we have been getting of late.

[1] For front page posts that is; the policy on random acts of self-expression in the comments box is a little stricter, sorry Benjamin.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Just two quick points on today's before anyone else has a chance to Watch it.

1. This sort of thing was sanctimonious horseshit when it was called "the bias against understanding" and was being churned out by the yard by Dave's mentor Brian Walden. It has not improved with age.

2. Get this:

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.

If I was Reg Keys, or any other relative of someone who had died in Iraq, I might find this in pretty poor taste, since the memorial service in question was the Iraq memorial, for casualties of the war in Iraq, a war which Dave supported loudly and vocally. The Iraq war appears to have been erased from Dave's column for quite some time now.