Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Southern Comforts

I know B2 has already adressed part of Aaro's colum, but it's one of his more complex efforts. I read it this morning before I went to work and I can't say that it's any clearer on a rereading.

Wittgenstein once said that "Philosophy is finding bad reasons for what we know already," and there are several newspaper columnists, including Aaro, who see fit to illustrate this. The point of a column like today's is less "to shew the fly the way out of the fly-bottle" (Wittgenstein again) than to recount a recurring dream and psychoanalyse the juicy bits.

I'm tempted to be harsh on Aaro's prose and now is a good time to remember the example of Giles Coren. The bad parts may not being our man's doing. Here's the paragraph which grabbed B2's attention:

Some don't think so. Yesterday morning, here in Manchester, the conference hall belonged to those Bourbons of the centre Left, the trade unions. Somehow all their motions had been pushed together into the same space, meaning that the delegates could enjoy several Cro-Magnon speeches each by the joint general-secretaries of Unite, Derek Simpson and Tony Woodley, and the boss of the GMB, Paul Kenny. The result was a sort of convention on an offshore leper colony, except in this case the lepers didn't even realise they'd been marooned.

Does anyone have the programme for the Labour Conference? I suspect that union leaders addressing the floor on the same day was neither a plot (see 'marooned' above) nor a coincidence (see 'Somehow'). It seems like logical organisation to have speakers with similar interests to follow one another. As for the prose, I cannot work out what function the word 'each' is supposed to perform in the middle sentence. And if the Labour leadership really agrees with Dave - that trade union leaders are 'lepers' who have 'been marooned' - I hope they've got a few more best-selling children's author's donations in the pipeline. Last I heard, the People's Party was rather deeply in debt, and Joanne Rowling can't be expected to get it out on her own.

The third comment on B2's post was our old friend 'Anonymous' who said, "If only you could write half so well." Aaro is in good fettle today: he isn't short of all those things that liven up a piece of prose - allusions, metaphors, similes, invective. It's a professional job, all right. If, however, your criterion is clarity, he's been to busy with all the other stuff to oblige.

All but the most wilful Labourites know in their waters that the capitalists were partly responsible for the as-yet-fairly-comfortable bust, then they also had something to do with the much longer preceding boom, ...

Fairly clear so far. The 'then' is confusing; this morning I found that I mentally went back and inserted an 'if' before 'the capitalists' otherwise the syntax breaks down. But at this point he had a clear enough thought in his head.

...a boom in which the public sector workers, represented by the unions, have most certainly participated.

Why 'public sector workers' rather than 'workers' and why are these 'public sector workers' 'represented by the unions' when the unions he's mentioned so far represent both public and private sector workers? And surely he meant 'from which ... benefited' rather than 'in which ... participated'.

By "the new homophilic Conservative Party", I think he means his Times colleague Michael Gove. (I'm sure he's not thinking of Matthew Parris.)

They want to be protected from change, but not to suffer from the inevitable consequences of protection.

Two words: "safety net". Or even one word: "insurance." Protection doesn't have to be stifling. I'm not exactly sure what he means by "the inevitable consequences of protection" although Soviet tanks on the streets can't be ruled out. What people expect from a Labour government (possibly any government) and not from capitalism is this: if everything fucks up and the job goes kaput, they can still heat their homes, eat, and the kids can go to school.

Under him [Gordon Brown] - HBOS reprieve notwithstanding - Labour is heading for a Majorite meltdown.

I'm really not sure about that HBOS reprieve. The Guardian reported it as Lloyds TSB chairman struck HBOS deal with Brown at City drinks party which say that Brown promised Lloyds TSB that it "would escape the scrutiny of the competition authorities." I'm really surprised that there hasn't been an almighty stink over this. This isn't how capitalism is supposed to work outside of Marxist-Leninist pamphlets denouncing same.

Now if I've read the end of the piece correctly, Dave is volunteering the boy Miliband to lead the Labour Party to defeat which would make DB a successor to "Gaitskell or Kinnock, who never got a chance to serve."

Why vote for a party that itself says it will lose? But in the cold watches around dawn, when the booze has worn off, Labour people have to admit that even the scale of any defeat is all-important and that having 250 MPs is ten times better than having 150.

So Dave says they're going to lose as well. He doesn't consider a victory or even a hung parliament. So the question stands, "Why vote for them?" But surely Aaro goes back far enough to have voted Labour when they couldn't win. "Because it's the right thing to do" is a perfectly good answer to his question. (I'm not going to vote Labour; I'm going to vote tactically to get these bastards out. But it's still a good answer.)

As an antidote, I'd recommend reading anything by John Harris or Justin McKeating but especially this.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

as a professional sub editor i feel compelled to point out that this cuts both ways: the GOOD bits may not be the writer's work either, it depends at what point s/he throws coren-esque tantrums

obviously i am unwilling to "talk my book"┬ęd^2, and hence will not out all the famous writers whose lovely prose is actually fashioned by anonymous underpaid editorial drones like myself

9/23/2008 04:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This 'new homophilic conservative party' is a standard Decent line now, isn't it - witness Nick Cohen claiming that as Anthony Browne is a Tory he must be right-on, since there are so many gays in the party. A pretty redundant argument really.

9/24/2008 08:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Basically, being gay means that you are intrinsically "liberal" and "left wing" these days (cf Lock, Brett), no matter what you actually believe. The American equivalent is to believe in evolution.

I think it works in the same way as having a black friend, but obviously for an awful lot of the commenteriat, gay friends are a lot easier to find than black friends.

9/24/2008 10:11:00 AM  

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