Wednesday, March 14, 2007

23 Days Later

A search of Nick's site for 'Daniel Finkelstein' yeilds two posts. The Times's comment editor and blogger has reviewed What's Left twice. Once in the Times on February 14 and in the Jewish Chronicle (reproduced on the Engage website) on March 9. Nick summarized the first review thus:

But he goes on to say that I need to understand that Tories have often been far better at pursuing progressive policies than the Left.

That's a pretty fair summary of Finkelstein. Typical paragraph:

At one point in What’s Left?, Nick Cohen attacks Tony Blair for calling the 20th century a "Conservative century". He says that life was transformed in that 100 years, beyond the dreams of radicals. He can't see that both he and the Prime Minister are right at the same time. It was a Tory century because the Conservative Party was politically supreme. And the country was transformed, sometimes by the Left but often with the Tory party as the agent of change (bringing, for instance, a vigorous, more classless free enterprise economy). And in foreign policy sometimes the Left held out for human rights against the Tory pessimists but, marginally more often, Conservative optimists stood firm for freedom while much of the Left tolerated Communist crimes.

Daniel Finkelstein last week put his mind to Iranian Professor Hasan Bolkhari, and his anti-Semitic teachings and writings.

But I had one other, I suspect rather more rare, response.
Where is the Left, I wondered.

No you bloody didn't is my response.

If we want to win the battle for the Left, we have to persuade them that there are worse things than American capitalism. Anyone fancy writing a letter to The Guardian?

Whatever Daniel Finkelstein's merits as a comment editor and deconstructor of looney academics, he doesn't have a side in the 'battle for the Left' - unless, despite his certainties a mere 23 days before, he switched political sides in the last three weeks.

Somehow, I doubt that.


Blogger Matthew said...

Could you outline a little Daniel Finkelstein's qualities as a comment editor, for those of us in the dark, or is that going beyond the remit of this website?

3/15/2007 07:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On Danny Finkelstein, it is worth knowing (1) He started off as an activist in David Owe's SDP and then became an advisor to John Major

(2) He writes stuff like this

Nick makes a funny joke about Daniel F's invitation that he should appreciate the tories

"I don’t know why but when I read him I was reminded of the scene in Rosemary’s Baby when Mia Farrow fights back against the satanists . The leader of the devil worshippers says that resistance will only prolong her agony and hisses ‘join us, it’s easier that way’. ".

Mind you, his latest Standard Column on Trident reads just like he has given in to the dark side, it starts of pure bufton tufton.

3/15/2007 09:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the Daniel F column I meant should be this one

3/15/2007 09:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Still can't get it to work, sorry

put this phrase in google and you will get to Finkelstein's wisdom

"understand chelsea versus sheffield and you will see the iraq"

3/15/2007 09:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the bruchetta crowd might be interested in this column by Finkelstein:

I've been meaning to email it Ben Goldacre to go in his "Bad Science" column in Saturday's Guardian. It appears to contain a number of crimes against scientific and logical rigour.

But then the Times has got lots of previous for this kind of thing haven't they? The recent attempt to debunk the Iraq Lancent
study and its articles on climate change denial sping to mind.

What do you think? Is it a candidate for Goldacre's column?

3/15/2007 04:03:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Matt, I was trying to find a way of saying 'Daniel Finkelstein is talking complete crap' without straying into libel because any reasonable jury, if asked which of DF and myself was better acquainted with the ruminations of Mr Finkelstein in his moments of private reflection, would have to find for him. But I think he makes two specious claims in that piece. First that he wondered why the Left didn't hurry to the rescue like a collective Batman, and second that he is in any way engaged in a 'struggle for the left'. If he was an SDP activist, that claim may at one time have been true (though I find that that party became several thousand per cent more attractive if referred to 'Roy Jenkins' SDP' rather than as "David Owen's").

Mind you, it was brave of Daniel Finkelstein to review Nick again after our boy's response to his first effort (which I why I twigged that DF was talking such rubbish in the first place).

3/15/2007 08:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oliver Kamm has written a review of Nick's book for Decentiya.

Actually, it isn't so much a review as an exposition of Oliver Kamm's views on the left, again.

3/15/2007 09:31:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Even for him, that's particularly dreadful. "Bizarrely, parts of the Left, which ought to have recognised the atavistic forces driving xenophobic Serb nationalism, started parroting an ostentatiously unsentimental realism indistinguishable from the line of Douglas Hurd and Malcolm Rifkind, successive Conservative Foreign Secretaries." Was it the 'parts of the Left' which were expected to have recognised ... or the Left itself? And 'atavistic forces drivingxenophobic Serb nationalism' - one wonders if these were controlled by a ring which could only be destroyed by being thrown into a volcano. AFAIK, Oliver himself is fond of 'ostentatiously unsentimental realism' supported by Conservatives when it concerns the nuclear deterrent. And you'd have to be on the very far left to subscribe to a belief like 'I know Malcolm Rifkind is a conservative and I know that he supports Policy X, though I do not know what policy X actually is; because of his conservatism, however, it must be wrong; and I must believe the opposite.'

How can he dare to write '...the threat to Middle East peace...' - what Middle East peace? Ever? You think Saddam threatened Switzerland, not Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Or '...a system of thoroughgoing totalitarianism' I don't mind common or garden totalitarianism, it's the thoroghgoing variety I hate.

3/15/2007 10:53:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Sorry, me yet again. As for the merits of Daniel Finkelstein - he did nominate Chris Dillow for a thing called a thogger (which sounds like a cross between a thug and a flogger to me). Though I found it via Pollard whom he also nominated, so things kind of even out. And Bryan Appleyard (a journalist) nominated DF (a journalist) who nominated Stephen Pollard (a journalist) who nominated Bryan Appleyard ... It's like a children's song.

3/16/2007 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...


I do children's stories in English once a month at my local library and tomorrow I'm doing There was an old lady who swallowed a fly.

Reckon I should adapt it?

3/16/2007 02:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very interesting!

8/02/2007 05:51:00 PM  

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