Thursday, October 15, 2009

Beaten by Littlejohn

As noted by our ever vigilant commenter Organic Cheeseboard, our man David Aaronovitch (along with Johann Hari) was beaten by Richard Littlejohn in the Comment Awards.

Now, I'm no fan of our Dave, but all I can say is - what an excellent way to pre-emptively flush any credibility said awards may have earned in future. Must have been given for services to knee-jerk, smug, insular reaction. You're better off without it, Dave.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Singh Wins Right To Appeal

We discuss Nick's views on libel here so the story Simon Singh Wins Leave To Appeal In Bca Libel Case seems moot. This was all over Twitter this morning, but Google News throws up only the Index on Censorship post.

In a scathing rebuttal of Mr Justice Eady’s previous judgement in the case, Lord Justice Laws said Eady had risked swinging the balance of rights too far in favour of the right to reputation and against the right to free expression. Mr Justice Laws described Eady’s judgement, centred on Singh’s use of the word “bogus” in an article published by the Guardian newspaper, as “legally erroneous”.

We will hear more on this very soon, probably in the Observer on Sunday. I am not a lawyer, so readers can speculate away on their own.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Paul Farrelly MP

Paul Farrelly is a mate of Nick Cohen (and Martin Bright) from their days working at the Observer, isn't he? I merely ask.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Duly Noted

Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean that they're not out to get you

old saying


I did think of knocking out a post in solidarity (pah!) with Dave Osler, but Jonathan's comment (link above) in reply to Richard Harris a bit earlier does need to be noted here.

Shorter me: although I now find Nick Cohen incoherent and emotional all the time, and although he's prone to ruin his credibility with feats of mind reading[1], this doesn't mean that he's necessarily wrong all the time. He was right about New Labour fairly early and he may well be right about Mr Justice Eady.

Anyway, good luck to Dave Osler. And kudos to Iain Dale (also IMO hard to like, but like Nick, in the right occasionally).

[1] See for example his Roman Polanski piece: [t]he magazine's dazed New York lawyers...

Friday, October 02, 2009

All we want is a bank balance

It's no go the yogi man, it's no go Blavatsky,
All we want is a bank balance and a bit of skirt in a taxi.

Louis MacNeice from memory[1]

What to say about Denis MacShane's letter to the Guardian? (Mentioned in the comments to the previous post.) Before laying into it, I should lay out some theories of mischief of worse on the part of the Guardian's letters' editor. The letter as published may have been rewritten in part - why I cannot think beyond the original being in undecipherable manuscript. It may have been extensively edited, and the apparent contradictions may originally have been further apart and so less glaring. Of course, the paper may have received the missive[2] they published. Heads were scratched and various exclamations starting with "What the" tried out before someone declared, "What the hell, he's a chump[3], publish and be damned!"

There's a link above, so I'm not going to quote much. Why does MacShane present his facts in the manner of Mr Tarantino's award-winning opus "Pulp Fiction"? Now we're three weeks ago. Now we're some time before that. Now we're back to this week. Now we're in the perpetual present. What does "street violence is more in evidence in France than Britain" mean? Street violence, as your present correspondent understands it, takes place in the street which is to say, in public. Surely these things are researched, and MPs regularly see at least the abstracts of such research. MacShane wrote to the Guardian, not the Sun, and I think its readers would suspend their disbelief if an academic paper with a long title and a longer subtitle were name-dropped.

I am going to quote some of the letter, because this is where if any editing occurred, the snips came.

His argument that local mayors prevent antisocial behaviour would be laughed at across the Channel. There are good arguments for breaking down centralised Britain, but when Labour offered the north-east regional government it was rejected by a vicious Tory and press campaign.

Local mayors was a Labour policy. Jenkins, as I understand him, wants Labour to have extended local mayors to smaller cities and made councillors more visible (I'll note that this would make the BNP even more obviously useless than they are already). I don't see how north-east regional government would help that. (Am I paranoid, or has New Labour offered regional government only to the poorest areas of the country - in other words reducing Westminster's influence to the good bits?)

The concepts of duty, responsibility, respect, thrift and local solidarity have disappeared. But the liberal-left despise these values, while the right buys itself out of these problems by moving to posher districts or sending their kids to private schools.

The concepts MacShane talks of remind me of Alan Clark's belief that Scotland should have been Tory, because of roughly those virtues. Of course, Scotland defied Clark and sent left-liberal candidates (and a few communists and Independent Socialists) to Westminster to represent most of its constituencies through the 20th century. By left-liberal of course I mean the Labour Party which used to mix both. Perhaps MacShane means that the rot started when Roy Jenkins was Home Secretary: it all went wrong when we legalised homosexuality and abortion and stopped censoring plays. And is it just the right who sent their kids to private schools? Didn't Diane Abbot and Tony Blair (and as K-Tel used to say, many more!) send their kids to public schools? But what is it MacShane is accusing the liberal-left of?

What does he mean by suggesting that respect has disappeared? Didn't he see Kanye at those video awards? MacShane may have a point about thrift: didn't Keynes suggest that money was better spent than hoarded? But, less ideologically, nothing kills thrift more than inflation and MacShane's party allowed a boom in house prices. Oh, that was the liberal-left in the Party of course.

Anyway, we here at 'World of Decency' often make the sophomoric mistake of assuming that all our targets are alike. But MacShane doesn't like the 'liberal-left' (which I understand to mean something like the shared ground between the old Liberal Party - ie centrist - and the left), while possibly preferring the authentic proletarian values only fully articulated by Mao Tse-Tung (or Margaret Thatcher)[4]. While David T of Harry's Place says:

Now, much of our focus on Harry’s Place has been on the extent to which the centre Left has become infected with the fanaticism and insanity of the far Left.

So centre Left (when not fanatical) good, far Left bad. And that's what Harry's Place's focus has been, I thought it was all about the Muslims.

Almost entirely off-topic, I think many readers will enjoy Alex Massie on the (Moon owned) Washington Times' review of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon's autobiography. Oh, god, I've just remembered there was a piece on Today about London mayor (see, on-topic) Boris Johnson's appearance on EastEnders and Barbara Windsor (if I have my soap actors right) being proper gobsmacked by his presence which reminds me of the stories about Stalin in 'The Golden Notebook' (see the footnote you should have read earlier, fool).

How could I forget this:

I support Sir Simon's views that we need more, not less elected politicians but given the current hatred of any elected person...

Aaargh! There's one thing I hate more than politicians and that's people who use less for discreet items. Hanging's too good for 'em, I say.

[1] I've forgotten who the poem was supposed to be satirising. I think I liked it at the first reading, before I came to realise that these sort of barbs apply to everyone. I've certainly thought that ever since.

[2] I'm not going to stoop to 'epistle'. I'm not, I'm not.

[3] See Paul Waugh. Yes, he's a Tory, but I really loathe Mandelson, who I think should have been ejected from the Labour Party on April 10, 1992. Anyone who shares my revulsion is at least temporarily on my side.

[4] Not really a footnote, but I've been reading 'The Golden Notebook' and I can't get over how good it is on communists. I can't help thinking that what MacShane and co want is to be pure. Never mind that their ideology is self-contradictory, never mind that their ideas don't seem to work, they're on the right side of history. And because I can't fit it in anywhere else, would I be right in thinking that Orwell's taste for denouncing others (which he certainly had, even if he deprecated the tendency and occasionally even apologised for it) came after he returned from Spain. Did he, in other words, pick up a need for factionalism and ideological purity from fighting Stalinists?