Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Bye bye, blackbird

In so far as I am able to make editorial pronouncements on behalf of Aaronovitch Watch (Incorporating "World of Decency"), ie not at all, I think that there is really not much point Watching Nick Cohen any more. Although at one point in its life this blog was called "Aaronovitch Watch (Incorporating "Nick Cohen Watch")", the raison d'etre has always been to cover news and views relating to the Decent Left - ie, the clique of neoconservatives, Atlanticists etc, but within the general definition of the British Left. Bog standard Tory populists have never been on topic except in as much as they comment on the general topic of Decency, and I think it is now impossible to ignore the fact that this is what Nick Cohen is. Onward and upward.

Just for clarity, Aaro himself is on topic no matter what political direction he takes, and no amount of nauseating reach-arounds to "fellow Times columnist Michael Gove" will change this fact. Aaro's actual article seems pretty good to me; naturally I prefer my own version of the same theme, but then again I recall thinking "hmmm bruschettaboy, this does sound a bit like warmed-over Aaro" when I was writing it.


Blogger ejh said...

Ah - disagree, Cohen's still big among the Decents and therefore of some interest. His name will keep coming up.

10/01/2008 03:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you are going to drop people on that basis then you are going to lose the entire lot. It is highly debatable whether any of the Decent Left are really left at all.

10/01/2008 04:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nick's conversion to conservatism in the presence of Cameron himself started here

altho', in his typical Cohen-fusion he says he is falling for Cameron becuase Dave will regulate the banks, but then says in his Standard Column that nobody should regulate the banks, lest they stop that lovely trickle down

10/01/2008 04:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That web address for Nick (heart) cameron is:- , minus the spaces,

(sorry don't know how to do it otherwise.)



10/01/2008 04:49:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

I'm glad you did those, B2; I really didn't want to. The thing about Nick's column is that it's all nonsense. Off the top of my head, I thought that it was a given that people on high incomes *save* (or invest) a lot. City bonuses *don't* trickle right back down to the economy. Chris Dillow articules his criticisms rather better than I can.

BTW, Aaro was on the Andrew Marr breakfast show having a jolly good time with Amanda Platell. He had a dig at the Mail (which deserved it), but he missed a wide-open goal when Platell lauded Paul Newman - liberal (US) through and through Amanda. Dave: "You only like him because he was faithful!" (so, not like John McCain then).

I don't get this idea of Gove's about poaching Andrew Adonis and Hazel Blears. (Adonis is slagged off in Standpoint, but by 'The Bell Curve' guy, whose name escapes me, so I almost like Adonis.) If they poached Vince Cable, they'd be suddenly credible.

10/01/2008 06:48:00 PM  
Blogger AndyB said...

Without looking, I'm guessing Charles Murray?

God. What kind of nasty right wing rag is Standpoint?

10/01/2008 07:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to clarify - Nick is on topic when talking about Decency, or being cited by the Decents, or writing yet another of his Ratbiter columns about how Alec Salmond is a dhimmi in the service of Mecca or whatever. He's just no longer intrinsically ontopic in the way that Aaro is - viz Aaro going to the Pritikin Institute to lose weight or having a freebie to the Caymans is interesting, but Nick's fucking awful theatre and arts reviews (which is my main motivation for getting shot of him) aren't.

I also doubt that any of us, including me, will have the willpower to stick to this.

10/01/2008 08:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have always thought that Charles Murray is an interesting example of the way that material of incredibly dubious providence can become respectable in certain circles because it fits in with a particular ideological perspective.

His article contains this complete gem:

His belief that nearly all children can be proficient at academic skills is educational romanticism. Many children are just not gifted enough to learn to read and write at more than a rudimentary level, far short of the level required by a GCSE, and the schools can only tweak their performance at the margins. An educational system that serves all the children must begin by recognising that truth.

No Chaucer for the proles. They'll just have to accept working at Wall-Mart from the age of 12.

10/01/2008 10:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

far short of the level required by a GCSE

The interesting thing about this is that he's actually saying that many children are innately far short of the level required by a CSE (note for younger readers: the sole qualification offered by the schools attended by the large majority who failed the 11+ entrance exam for grammar schools, which was calibrated in such a way that a first-class CSE corresponded to a bare pass at the grammar schools' GCE exam). God knows the GCSE system isn't perfect, but failing lots of kids a the bottom end isn't usually one of its criticisms.

10/01/2008 11:10:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

Its all nonsense CC. The stuff about bonuses is rubbish, obviously. But under Labour, London has turned into a financial offshore center and a lot of people have argued that London's recent success as a financial centre has much to do with light regulation. And if we don't have "creative financials" (like creative accountancy, only legal), what else has the UK got to offer the world?

10/01/2008 11:31:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

Sorry, that should have said "not all nonsense".

10/01/2008 11:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a thoroughly dishonest piece by Cohen - he hasn't got that much hair.

10/02/2008 02:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't get this idea of Gove's about poaching Andrew Adonis and Hazel Blears.

Blears won't jump ship, but Adonis...he's really a creature of Blair's time in power, and as some Tories may have realised that academies are the back door route to a selective system (the rest are too obsessed with grammars to realise the open goal, New Labour have offered), Adonis is just the man to sell the idea.

Think of it as the reverse of New Labour hiring Woodhead back in 1997.


10/02/2008 12:28:00 PM  
Blogger The Couscous Kid said...

Here in Oxford we remember Andrew Adonis in his incarnation as a Lib Dem councillor, 1987-91. And the Lib Dem strongholds in Oxford are the leafy, affluent parts of North Oxford, which one could easily mistake for naturally Conservative territory. Adonis jumping ship to Cameron's crowd would be a natural career move.

10/02/2008 01:28:00 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

Meanwhile, Martin Kettle can go get fucked. Didn't some Oi band or other have a stage set including a pig's head in a police helmet?

10/02/2008 06:20:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

What's this about pig's heads?

Oddly, Oxford United's chairman has resigned today after some days of being referred to as a pig's head by ne'er-do-wells on the internet, although it's not clear the two events are connected....

10/02/2008 06:28:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

I can never tell if Charles Murray is cynically ignoring the vast amount of evidence that destroys his thesis, or is simply ignorant of it.

My mother taught at a public school. The success of the professional classes is not due to "innate" ability (however one might try and define such a nebulous concept), and has everything to do with well resourced schools, small classes and effective targeted coaching. On top of that they don't have to worry about hungry/malnourished pupils, their students will have quiet private places to study, access to resources and probably also get private coaching on top of that. You can make similar arguments for state educated pupils in good areas/good schools (usually the same thing as defined by government stats).

10/02/2008 07:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nick still appears in the Observer, he still sometimes claims to be on the Left, other people still claim that he is on the Left, he still claims to be exposing the idiocies of the Left from the inside. So he still needs watching.

10/03/2008 07:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nick probably still needs watching, not least because he hasn't yet jumped the shark and joined the Telegraph (cf Melanie Phillips)


10/03/2008 08:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

pig's head in a helmet: this would be the Angelic Upstarts, so not strictly speaking oi (at least if oi is defined as being rightwing, which the AUs certainly weren't) (however if oi is defined as "bands that garry bushell championed" then as you were)

i associate the waving of this device with the song "who killed liddle towers?" (a question expecting the answer "the police")

a quick google informs me that the pig was known as "pc fuck pig"

10/03/2008 10:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

looks like HP Sauce are back to their old repellent form in witchunting those who dare even the vaguest dissent:

hilariously, in the comments, David T ends up doing exactly what Shaw has such a problem with - taking a solitary individual and then claiming, with no real evidence, that their views are 'widespead'. I sincerely doubt Shaw will respond. It's posts like this that make HP such a joke - well that and their non-existent approach to editing their guests' posts, something they're currently having a go at the Guardian about...

10/04/2008 09:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not even sure that HP counts as the Decent Left any more. Decentism is still an influential doctrine among political elites, whereas HP's project these days is something altogether more fringe.

10/04/2008 11:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alex: you're thinking of the Angelic Upstarts

10/04/2008 12:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to say that when I saw David T pose the question "does anti-semitism play a serious part in anti-Israel campaigning?" I was on tenterhooks as to what the answer might be.
The best bit is in the comments where Michael Rosen ever so politely takes David T to task for misrepresenting him in the original post (not the first time he has had to do this).

10/04/2008 03:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That, or David T's response to being corrected:

“Silly, silly David T. You have so NOT described what happened nor what I felt. Your binaries are all wrong too. No matter.”

Michael - you’ve spent a big chunk of your adult life working with the SWP! Your judgement on “what’s going on” isn’t likely to be brilliant, is it?

Considering that the event David T's claiming superior knowledge of was, precisely, an interaction between Michael Rosen and the SWP, this must take some sort of award for chutzpah.

10/05/2008 12:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ugh, the treatment of Rosen on that thread beggars belief.

nick in today's Obs now arguing for sweeping regulations of the city. isn't that exactly the opposite of his standard column?

best bit:

After the 9/11 atrocities, Tony Blair declared: 'The kaleidoscope has been shaken. The pieces are in flux. Soon they will settle again. Before they do, let us reorder the world.' I have no access to the private thoughts of Labour's leaders, but I fear that they have neither the confidence nor the desire to reorder the world.

I'm not sure where to start...

10/05/2008 02:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes , Nick seems to have turned another 180 degrees for his bash-the-city Observer pieces.

possibly because (a) He writes slightly more right wing stuff for the Standard, cos that is why they hired him, and principled Nick is willing to please his masters
(b) One column was written with more time and less drink
(c) Nick is hurling towards the right cos of his commitment to The Greatest Intellectual Struggle of Our Time, but this is an uneven process. His economic position is the last to crumble, so he is a bit confused in this area. Mind he has already declared that Cameron will clean up the city , but Brown is too much in the pockets of big business, so he could adapt his position to a pretty pro-Tory one.

10/05/2008 02:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nick's 180 degree turn on city regulation, in the space of a week, would fit perfectly in Private eye's "Hackwatch", as would so much of Nasty Nick's crazy copy

10/07/2008 08:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, but since he is bezzie mates with Francis Wheen, who writes Hackwatch, he is granted immunity., Shameful

10/08/2008 10:30:00 PM  

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