Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Nick has discovered YouTube. (The rather odd bit of text before the video seems to be because his publishing system - which looks like WordPress - has converted all the plain quotation marks into curly ones. Having said that, I looked at the html. I thought he'd been hacked at first; there are thousands of invisible links. I don't know if they are a bizarre spambot trap or the result of some kind of attack. If anyone knows about WordPress vulnerabilities, I think they should tell him though.)

He seems to support Manchester United. - Born in Birmingham Chesire[1], went to Oxford, lives near Highbury. I don't get the connection. Norman Geras is a United supporter, but surely not ...

This wouldn't be worth mentioning but for John Harris posting on 'Comment is Free' about a "pretty bizarre portrait of the inestimable Diego Maradona, made by the Bosnian-born auteur Emir Kusturica."

A few people at the screening seemed to concur with this ragbag analysis, whereupon my mind filled up with images of Christopher Hitchens, Nick Cohen et al, surely rendered all but a busted flush by their line on Iraq, but who would covet this film as prime example of everything they rail against. Mercifully, its kind of thinking has much less of a grip on the mainstream left than they'd like to think, but - and this cuts them a little slack, which hurts - it does blur over into a disposition that extends a little further than the political fringe: victim-politics, in which the abiding notion of a great Satan serves to let all kinds of people off the hook.

I bet Marko Attila Hoare (BB adds: who we have always considered to be part of Aaronovitch Watch's extended family) will have something to say too about Bosnian-born auteurs.

My god! Just imagine if Eric Cantona got politics.

[1] Update As pointed out in the comments, Nick is not from Birmingham. His connection with that city was his being "a reporter on the Birmingham Post & Mail". Quite different. I apologise unreservedly. I still don't understand Manchester United supporters though.

Nick's piece in the Standard on Man U isn't online, but his knife crime article is. It's not his best. One note:

Just after Boris Johnson took over, Sir David Normington, Permanent Secretary at the Home Office, told the Commons Public Affairs Committee that violent crime was just a small proportion of overall crime, and only seven per cent of violent criminals used knives. MPs muttered their support and blamed the press for inciting a moral panic. Yet if Sir David had to stand for election, he wouldn't fare any better than Livingstone.

Fans of Sir Humphrey Appleby may like to read Sir David's testimony. I don't think he was complacent, however. I did love this bit:

Q18 Nigel Griffiths: Was it the Mayor of New York who said London is a more violent city than New York or something like that? Is there evidence to sustain that?

Sir David Normington: He may have said that, but I do not know that I want to agree with you.

That would also be this Sir David Normington.

The Home Office statistics that underpin one in five of its key policy areas are simply "not up to scratch", the department's most senior official told MPs yesterday.
Sir David Normington, who had to apologise yesterday to the Commons public accounts committee for supplying inaccurate data on anti-social behaviour orders, said 30 of the 160 main sets of figures covering crime, immigration and prisons used by the Home Office were simply not up to the job.

Update 2 Thursday 4:20 Nick:

For the past few months, people in authority have been telling us not to let the murders of Steven Bigby and Jimmy Mizen stop us from realising that London is a safer, happier city.
Whenever I hear senior officers from the Met shake their heads at the public unwillingness to recognise that crime is going down ....
... In other words, the authorities should be careful of claiming there is an irrational fear of crime at large.

I'm sure Nick was thinking of real people who said these things. The Guardian has two online articles on knives. New crackdown on knife and gun crime:

Addressing a conference in Birmingham, the home secretary, Jacqui Smith, said £5m would be committed to tackle gun and knife crime, while witnesses would be offered anonymity to encourage them to come forward.
The Met police estimated that more than 170 gangs were operating in London, and this month admitted that attempts to crack down on knife crime had not solved the problem.
A trio of senior judges yesterday warned that knife offences were reaching "epidemic proportions" and must bring severe sentences.

Police swarm streets to tackle teenage violence:

The high-profile surveillance operation, watched by the Guardian in the middle of the afternoon at the end of last week, is quite a regular event, or "normal policing", according to the Met, and a response to growing public anxiety about teenage gangs, fatal knifings and drugs-related shootings.

A "regular event"- that sounds to me like it's been going on since Livingstone was mayor.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5/21/2008 05:07:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Norman Geras is a United supporter

Which United?

5/21/2008 05:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

United Fruit, silly

5/21/2008 06:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From yesterdays Nick in the Evening Standard
"MY NAME'S Nick and I'm a Manchester United supporter.

Somewhat unusually, I come from Manchester as well. In the past few days I've met Chelsea supporters, one of them an actual Londoner, who are convinced we will be a soft touch in the Champions League Final because we won the Premiership.

They are forgetting that when Sir Alex Ferguson took over in 1986 United were a failed team and for several years it looked like he would be another of its failed managers. Throughout the Seventies and Eighties, United would be favourites to win the league at Christmas, only to blow it.

The idea that after the years of humiliation Sir Alex will relax and generously allow others share the spoils is well, let's see if it's still standing at 10pm tonight."

- so he is from Manchester, not Birmingham. He went to school at Altrincham Grammar, in cheshire - so outside the M60, but in that area

5/22/2008 07:51:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Cheshire (it's currently missing the h).

The bit whereby it's wrong to tell people that their perceptions of crime are exaggerated is very Andrew Anthony, isn't it?

5/23/2008 05:18:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

Its also very anti-enlightenment when you think about it. Sure the whole point is what the facts point to, not common sentiment. I mean, what kind of wishy washy relativism is the man pushing?

5/25/2008 10:35:00 AM  
Blogger Philip said...

Christopher Hitchens, Nick Cohen et al, surely rendered all but a busted flush

That's what happens when you bet on a flustered Bush.

5/25/2008 07:34:00 PM  

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