Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Because I Can

Let me refer to a post of mine from last year. "FWIW, I think David Miliband is the closest thing to a Decent in Parliament ..." Jeers all round in the comments. Oh, what have we here?

Has anyone read the whole thing? I got as far as far as "supporting movements for democracy" and it reminded me of I need an election.

And boy, do I wish I'd written this -

If Bush had spent that $3,000,000,000,000 on shoes, no American child would ever have to wear the same shoes more than once. Or he could have bought everyone in Iraq an Aston Martin. Those would be the actions of a madman, of course, yet still more sensible than what he actually did do.

Update: straight after hitting the publish post button. David Miliband: "We must not be glib about what democracy means - it is far more than a five year ballot. We cannot be self satisfied about the state of our own democracy."

MPs reject referendum on EU treaty:

However, several Labour MPs rebelled, saying the party should stick by its 2005 manifesto commitment to a public poll on the proposed constitution.

Damn right, it's more than a five year ballot: it at least means the elected party sticks to their manifesto promises. (That's not an anti-EU point, BTW, or a pro-Cameron one. It's a "you made a promise and people supposedly voted for you on the entirety of your manifesto" point.) Aye, aye?

Update 20:15. Labour Manifesto 2005 (no link - I saved a copy for future reference), p110:

Labour remains committed to reviewing the experience of the new electoral systems – introduced for the devolved administrations,the European Parliament and the London Assembly. A referendum remains the right way to agree any change for Westminster.

OK, before anyone comments, that is not an entirely unambiguous promise. Still, changes to the EU must mean changes to Westminster - therefore a referendum was implicitly promised was it not?


Blogger Matthew said...

Don't they mean a referendum is necessary to change Westminster's electoral system (e.g. to PR). The Lisbon Treaty doesn't do that.

The more common argument is that they promised a referendum on the EU Constitution, and this treaty is just that with a few changes.

Milliband in Decentiya is only a speech that's been included, I imagine he gives permission to anyone. It does read decently though, I agree.

3/05/2008 08:37:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Fair point, Matthew re the more common argument. I confess that I just opened my pdf of the Labour 2005 manifesto and searched for 'referendum'. It appears twice (assuming my Mac is trustworthy): on p110 and on page 84 when discussing the euro. It does not seem to me to promise a referendum on the EU Constitution.

3/05/2008 09:10:00 PM  
Blogger Benjamin said...

The latest edition of Democratiya only confirms to me the dwindling differences between the 'Decent Left' and the Neocons. There is very easy crossover now. Neocon thought is presented very uncritically. Neocon writers are welcomed without a word of dissent.

As regards Milliband, his Aung San Suu Kyi Lecture (the boy David is not fit to step in the shoes of Aung San Suu Kyi) is presented uncritically. In the Editors page, where all the articles are introduced by Alan Johnson, there are only warm words.

Milliband is said to have made "the most important speech made by a British Foreign Secretary for many a year" and is "upholding the values that constitute our tradition". It is a "post-Blair speech" not an "anti-Blair" one that identifies "the great progressive cause of the 21st century – 'the democratic imperative'". Democratiya readers will "cheer to the rafters" Miliband's arguments.

As Johnson's commentary simply reads like a press release for Milliband there is predictably no analysis of the gap between rhetoric and reality.

Milliband is part of a government that regularly fawns over dictatorships - take Saudi Arabia (granted a state visit) and China. In Hong Kong recently, Milliband felt the democratic imperative so strongly that he refused to back Hong Kong democrats pushing for universal suffrage. Milliband is part of a govt that denounces those who dare to suggest that the Beijing Olympics should not simply be an opportunity to promote the prestige of the Chinese one party state without criticism or question (not least over Burma).

Nothing of this real and muddy world is apparent in Johnson's fawning commentary. Perhaps it's just too difficult and inconvenient.

3/06/2008 02:16:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Did Miliband mention WMDs in the speech at all?

I ask because there's a lot of rewriting of history to suggest that the Iraq invasion was undertaken to overthrow a fascist dictator. But I (and I suspect millions of others) recall very clearly that the justification given at the time - not just once, but for months and months - was very different.

Was there any explanation of this strange discrepancy? I can find none in the executive summary.

3/06/2008 08:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Indeed democracy for Iraq was hardly mentioned at all in the year previous to March 2003. And in his big piece in the Guardian of 1st Aug 2002, (Let's take him out) William Shawcross said that it didn't matter what kind of ruler followed Saddam, it could be a military man. This hardly suggests that the proponents of invading Iraq had democracy in the centre of their attentions.

Three other things that young Millipede fails to mention. One is that what he is proposing is illegal under international law: so is the UK renouncing international law? The second is that what has been created in Iraq is a failed state not a democracy. The third is that the UK cannot achieve what he is proposing: it depends on trying to get the US to do it for us, which involves all kind of gymnastics in trying to make another state the agency of our policy.

The gap between rhetoric and reality is indeed great.


3/06/2008 09:15:00 AM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

Here's "the most important speech made by a British Foreign Secretary for many a year"

Curiously, it does mention WMDs.

3/06/2008 09:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Damn right, it's more than a five year ballot: it at least means the elected party sticks to their manifesto promises

Two words: Tuition fees.

Guano - I remember that Shawcross comment, but I was never able to find the article when I needed it.


3/06/2008 09:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Shawcross article was definitely the Guardian, 1st August 2002. I remember sitting in the sun outside Geneva Station reading the Grauniad's European edition (which had printed another article twice, believe it or not).

I guess that Shawcross got his talking points from someone, so I presume that the line then was to make a lot of fuss about WMD and then use it to slip in a more controllable Saddam.


3/06/2008 10:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have to agree with the other posters here that Decentiya is rather amusing but not to be taken seriously as a proper journal. Its main purpose like HP is to go after people who have been critical of Israel/US/WOT/Iraq etc and provide mealy mouthed equivocation over its worst excesses such as "collateral damage" and torture.

I mean FFS the article on Paul Rogers was just so absurd it defied belief.

I must confess though I find the journal something of a guilty pleasure.

I can think of two pieces that were particularly amusing. One concerned a round table in which they brought together a group of Decents and non-Decents for a chinwag on various post-Iraq topics. The non-Decents (Martin Shaw, David Clark, Isabel Hilton) good people to a man/woman, refused to accept the Decent line on almost anything and when Kamm suggested that terrorism could be eradicated, citing the examples of Franco and the USSR David Clark responded by saying that:

"When I was listening to Oliver's description of Franco's success in suppressing ETA and the Soviet Union's success in suppressing terrorism during the Cold War I was reminded of the old medical joke – 'operation a success, patient dead'"

The other article that amused me was the response of the Glasgow Media Group to what appeared to be a pretty malicious and inaccurate review of one of their books. Unlike many of the Decentiya targets they didn't take the review lying down.

The original review can be found here

and the response here:

3/06/2008 01:10:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Franco eradicated ETA?

3/06/2008 01:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I seem to remember ETA turning one of Franco's minister's cars into a low flying aircraft ... unfortunately it's aerodynamics weren't so good at that point.

3/06/2008 02:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After bubby's commendation I thought I should try to read the Simcox review. Well, I tried.

Part II examines the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the attempts made to counter al-Qaeda. As befits a book of this title, needless to say Rogers does not believe these to have been successful.

a) Ooh, get her.
b) Who does?

3/06/2008 04:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is crazy - no way could Aston Martin make that many cars that quickly. The waiting list would be horrendous.

3/06/2008 05:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So was Kamm suggestng that Spain 1936-1975 and the Soviet Union 1917-1990 were societies that we should emulate because they eliminated torrorism?


3/07/2008 11:16:00 AM  

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