Thursday, August 19, 2010

Our work here is done...

Thanks to BenSix for finding Don’t go for a drink with Nick Cohen. Yes, a real link to La Place de Harold (kerching)!


Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

A real Cohen car crash there...

i still don't understand why he's trying to run an anti- Ed Miliband smear campaign.

It's obviously not working and seems totally out of keeping with the D Miliband campaign too.

8/19/2010 04:39:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

also from that post we learn that Michael 'Hedge Fund Guru and anti-Communist' Ezra is one of Nick's drinking buddies.

funny that...

8/19/2010 04:41:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Nick in Standpoint:

To win some of them [voters] back Labour is going to have to start winning arguments in those swathes of southern and central England where supporting Labour is now a minority interest on a par with water divining or train spotting. David Miliband strikes me as an intelligent politician who can appeal to moderates. Moreover, he is the only candidate who[m] you could imagine as prime minister. Choosing him seems so obvious a step to take as to be no choice at all.

That's all Nick's praise for DM. Would some of Miliband D's positions be too much to ask for? "David Miliband strikes me as an intelligent politician who can appeal to moderates." Doesn't this apply at least equally to both Eds?

I'll be very surprised if David M, Ed M, and Ed Balls aren't on the front bench after the leadership election. Nick's "anyone but Balls" posts and this can only harm Labour's credibility. It seems a very odd position for someone who claims to be a supporter.

8/19/2010 04:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"David Miliband strikes me as an intelligent politician who can appeal to moderates."

especially "moderates" who like to cover up torture.

8/19/2010 05:21:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

I missed it, but I gather from Twitter than Ed Balls said several very stupid things on PM tonight. No one I follow supported him. Maybe he won't be on the front bench after all. Attacking him for policy ideas is perfectly legitimate. Nick seems to prefer to go for character.

8/19/2010 06:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Cian said...

I really don't get the enthusiasm for David Milliband. Surely he's the Labour party equivalent of Hague. He comes across as an irritatingly precious sixth former. Better him than Burnham, but still, he's never going to win is he.

8/19/2010 06:43:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

In fairness to Balls, he clarified his position on Twitter here: @rowandavies - remittances very important and legit... Issue is whether u should claim tax credits for dependents back in home country

He wasn't saying (which he had been interpreted as being) that immigrant workers should somehow be prevented from sending money back to their home country.

8/19/2010 06:52:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Cohen's position on the leadership contest is really odd. He simultaneously claims to be for 'anyone but alls' - Balls being a rank outsider, Nick is likely to get his wish - but he's also firmly on the side of David Miliband. As you say, his reasoning is vague to say the least. The only actual reason he givs is this:

he is the only candidate who you could imagine as prime minister

Is that honestly true? not that I think this is the best way to judge candidates anyway, but Ed Miliband seems just as presentable as, I dunno, David Cameron.

You're right - all the leaadership contenders save Abbott will be frontbenchers, whoever wins. Balls is lining up a pretty interesting position for himself as attack dog in chief.

There's really not much to differentiate any of them, which is part of the problem with the leadership contest. What's interesting is that the main source of nastiness and smearing is one N. Cohen. In a previous Standpoint post he's moaned about Balls briefing against Burnham, but neither was ever going to win. It's Miliband vs Miliband now, and Nick is trying his best to make it a dirty campaign - a shame that he's so utterly pisspoor at smearing. At root he's a busted flush - he's allowed his dislike of Charlie Whelan to effectively influence every opinion he has about the Labour party.

Also just an aside, but the whole 'if your grandparents did X, that doesn't mean that you are the same' argument is interesting. The name Tariq Ramadan springs to mind.

8/20/2010 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger The Couscous Kid said...

I think the Decent enthusiasm for David Miliband essentially boils down to his unrepentant support for the war and ongoing enthusiasm for liberal interventionism. I don't think there's much more to it than that (and I don't think it's especially complicated).

Are there, for example, any members of the war party who are openly backing another candidate for leader of the Labour Party? Offhand, I can't think of one (but then I haven't thought too hard about it).

8/20/2010 11:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Simon said...

Luke Akehurst, who is fairly Decent on foreign policy (but not a monomaniac) is supporting Miliband E.

8/20/2010 06:11:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

@DAaronovitch "conspiracy theory – the dumbest form of cynicism." by @RealRobertWebb a line worth pinching?

- shurely 'demonology'?

'Dumb' - like 'smart' - one of those words that still prompts a double-take and transatlantic reorientation.

Mind you, on the UK meaning of 'dumbest', and a plain English one for 'CT', the aphorism actually makes pretty good sense.

8/21/2010 01:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

#R4Today Why wd Willie Whitelaw connive in the escape of a priest poss responsible for N Ireland Claudy bombing, 31/7/72? Dsn't make sense.
about 7 hours ago via web


'4 August 2010 Last updated at 15:10 Share this pageFacebookTwitterShareEmailPrint
Claudy bomb: conspiracy allowed IRA priest to go free

The report said police believed Fr James Chesney was an IRA leader and was involved in the bombing
The police, the Catholic Church and the state conspired to cover up a priest's suspected role in one of the worst atrocities of the Northern Ireland Troubles, an investigation has found.'

Impossible, David Aaronovitch has proved that such conspiracies are merely fantastical theories, believed only by the gullible and deluded.

8/24/2010 02:19:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

as any fule kno, if it sounds unlikely to our Dave then that proves it cannot have happened.

8/24/2010 02:54:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Aaro on 'Blair hatred':

Possibly the most obvious omission is that the pre-announcement of the donation is intended among other things to increase sales.

That's on top of the fact that 'a quarter of his wealth' (a) presupposes some unspecified sales projection, (b) does not represent reliquinquished wealth but at most foregone income, (c} still leaves a rather jolly large amount of money and the continued prospect of endless easy from a variety of sources for the rest of Blair's life. And (d) I haven't checked Aaro's figures - and one has to assume that they will have been compiled with a willingness to gain the greatest possible benefit from any doubt.

Also, for all Aaro's sneering, it is in fact pretty obvious that the announcement is, among other things perhaps, some kind of PR move.

(I keep seeing the 'will have' usage everywhere since that Cohen post).

8/25/2010 01:54:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

'Blair hatred' seems to be a decent meme, Cohen regularly retitles his columns to that effect on his blog, even when they're not really about that at all, like the David Kelly one (i dread to think how that read before the sbus got to it mind you). I still find it hard to believe that Nick Cohen is now to all intents and purposes a Blairite.

On the Blair memoirs - surely it's not an illogical position, to consider the donation a fairly nice gesture, but one which is outweighed by the fact that a) he's directly responsible for many of the injured he's helping through the donation, and b) his support for the war has more or less ensured his massive income from US sources? All the way through the later years of his tenure he was carving out a niche for himself in the US as the accepatble face of the Iraq war.

I do like the way that a week after aaro was being praised all over the place for Voodoo Histories, a news story comes along which effectively proves his methodology completely invalid.

8/25/2010 02:37:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

before the sbus got to it

Very good

8/25/2010 03:40:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

clearly that was intentional.


8/25/2010 04:16:00 PM  
Anonymous BenSix said...

...which effectively proves his methodology completely invalid...

He had a methodology?


8/25/2010 04:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Denis Macshane was given an enjoyable roasting on PM this evening by Eddie Mair over his unfortunate habit of shouting obscenities at young girls brought into the H of C to explain to MPs how they should fill out their expense forms.

Maybe its an affectation picked up from Tony Blair, but Nu Laborites like Denis and David Milliband all seem to adopt this bantering tone of an eighteenth century milord when caught in an embarrassing/career ending/treasonable situations.


8/25/2010 06:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

If there was any doubt that MacShane is a bully, his self-exculpation on PM confirmed it. By his account he said "I just want to get on with being an MP!", then he had tears in his eyes, then the volunteer got upset, then he rushed out and bought her "the biggest box of chocolates [he] could find". Lots of emphasis on how upset (and how sensitive) he was, but why she was upset remains a mystery - presumably in sympathy with him.

8/25/2010 10:00:00 PM  
Anonymous BenSix said...

Denis MacShane is Labour MP for Rotherham and a former Europe minister. He is working on a book on the future of the European Left.

Oh, fuck!

8/25/2010 11:18:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

I just want to get on with being an MP

Perhaps he should cut down on the media work, journalism, and book-writing then.

8/26/2010 07:32:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

was waiting for a train just now and checked out nick's stuff in the new standpoint... he has a v long piece on tariq Ramadan which seems to have copied and pasted from Paul berman's recent book, and he's now berating the BBC because Sherlock was, er, good.

8/27/2010 11:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>and he's now berating the BBC because Sherlock was, er, good.

How does he manage to do that?


8/27/2010 12:36:00 PM  
Blogger The Couscous Kid said...

*** Inadvertently, Sherlock proved that the BBC still cannot recognise a good drama when it is in front of its nose. It made just three episodes and broadcast them in the dog days of summer. It messed about with the transmission time — 9pm one week, 8.30pm the next — as it always does with unloved programmes. Only when Sherlock was a critical and popular triumph did it announce it would commission more episodes. ***

8/27/2010 12:39:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

The Independent's masthead is currently offering:


My fingers refused to click - does anybody else have rather sturdier digits than mine?

8/27/2010 12:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Independent's masthead is currently offering:


My fingers refused to click - does anybody else have rather sturdier digits than mine?

Not me - I've already read Martin Kettle's disingenuous 'Vote Miliband, D' piece on CiF. Has some kind of Bat-Signal been sent out along the lines of 'Ed Miliband Must Die'?


8/27/2010 02:04:00 PM  
Blogger The Couscous Kid said...

It's a curious piece, because there's no evidence of "whining" from Ed Miliband's supporters at all in it.

He mentions than in a recent interview Ed M himself "showed his irritation" with something David M had said earlier, but it's odd to count Ed Miliband as a "supporter" of Ed Miliband, and being a bit irritated about something in an interview isn't the same thing as "whining".

And then at the end there's a bit about things Shamik Das and Will Straw at the Left Foot Forward blog have written, but as far as I know, neither of them is a publicly-declared Ed Miliband supporter, and the blog they edit has a policy of staying neutral during the race, which I think it has kept to.

Other than that, nothing.

(John Rentoul is *such* a fool.)

8/27/2010 02:29:00 PM  
Blogger The Couscous Kid said...

(On the other hand, *I* am an Ed Miliband supporter, and so to the extent that the previous comment can be construed as "whining" -- and I'm sure that it can, in the World According To John Rentoul -- the Rentoul thesis is amply vindicated.)

8/27/2010 02:30:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

It messed about with the transmission time — 9pm one week, 8.30pm the next — as it always does with unloved programmes.

i don't actually watch Dr Who but i know a fair few Watchers do - doesn't the start time of that change fairly regularly, or am i mistaken?


Only when Sherlock was a critical and popular triumph did it announce it would commission more episodes.

hmm, see Nick's examples of great US Tv, none of them had to make it through the 'pilot then half a first series' thing did they? oh wait - they did.

Benedict Cumberbatch (Holmes) and Martin Freeman (Watson) were hardly unknowns before Sherlock. But they were not celebrities

eh? Martin Freeman has had entire sitcoms built around him since his starring role in the most popular and in all probability best comedy of the last ten years, he's one of the most recognisable faces in British TV.

more important than money is the will to make good television and in Britain that will isn't there.

Nick is in full-on anti-BBC conspiracy theory mode here. He genuinely thinks that British TV axaecs don't actually want to make good TV. bizarre. And did he not watch dr Who? Sherlock was pretty much that plus a bit of swearing.

For me, the smallest detail is perhaps the most telling:

At the same time as the BBC was running Sherlock, it was showing The Deep. Minnie Driver was the female lead, but she couldn't breathe life into a dead script.

granted, the script of the deep is awful. But Minnie Driver has never put in a single good performance in anything, she's a talent vacuum. Nick really doesn't know anything about film or TV.

8/27/2010 02:42:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Oh and the Ramadan piece is not worth bothing with. As well as being incredibly dull, Cohen manages to land not a single proper blow on Ramadan. most of it is jsut unreliable accounts of half-remembered radio and TV interviews, and then loads of crap about how amazing Ayaan Hirsi Ali is, with absolutely no focus on her views but lots on her biography.

8/27/2010 02:49:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

I've not yet read JR on EdM, but I looked at his Twitter feed and found:

Another defector from Ed Miliband to David: Toby Young aka @toadmeister (don't ask)

Isn't Toby Young a Tory?

Just seen OC's comment. Nick's reviews are bizarre. On the Who reference: Christopher Ecclestone and David Tennant were well-known ac-tors, but not celebrities before Who, and Matt Smith was pretty much totally unknown (as was Tom Baker). Not every series has to star John Thaw (especially now he's dead). What the casting section of the BBC do well is finding actors who are good for roles. Were any of the actors in The Wire celebrities?

I gave up on the Deep, but I only watched it because Aaro said it was terrible. He was right.

8/27/2010 02:56:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Oh, I see that was Nick's point. But when did the BBC think otherwise? ITV has form for only casting well-known names.

8/27/2010 03:08:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

I'm not so sure he's right about the whole 'US TV doesn't rely on star factor'. That's kind of the case with HBO type stuff, but not with any other mainstream US TV shows. even some of the widely-feted US dramas have recognisable faces - Dexter for example.

writing is more important than stars on US TV, seems to be nick's point. But his analysis is surely too reductive. The equivalent of BBC1 drama on US TV isn't stuff like The Wire and Mad Men, it's Grey's Anatomy (which is even worse than Nick's hated Mistresses, but just as popular) and CSI Miami. and all of those main-channel dramas have big names in the acting lineup. Even House has very well-known actors in it, and has done from the beginning.

This is the problem with his TV analysis. It pretends to be erudite and nuanced but it's just a blustering rant at his various favuorite villains, dressed up with a few Gore Vidal quotes.

8/27/2010 03:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rent-a-tool seems to have issued some kind of retraction.


8/27/2010 04:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Simon said...

The thing about John Rentoul is that, as well as being wrong in all his opinions, he's wrong on quite a lot of his facts as well, most of which he has copied from other equally badly informed 'commentators' in Westminster pubs. The only reason anyone pays him to write anything is that he acts as courtier to lots of dull Blairite politicians. Once they stop being important (which might happen if D Miliband fails to win the leadership) then his career is surely over.

8/27/2010 09:55:00 PM  
Blogger flyingrodent said...

People who find po-faced, decent blah at its most self-absorbed and tedious will find that this is the kind of thing they like...

...Everyone else would do well to steer clear.

8/27/2010 11:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Alex said...

Christopher Hitchens gives the Henry Jackson (!) lecture on Henry Kissinger:

- September 10th 2001

8/28/2010 04:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Lobby Ludd said...

Flying, you tease. I read the opening paragraph, where we find:

"It starts with a report on a recent and not particularly important spat amongst the leftover remains of the British anti-racist movement carried out in the courts and in the blogosphere, amongst three of the heavier hitters of the UK-based but internationally read left bloggers, Harry’s Place, Andy Newman’s Socialist Unity and Richard Seymour’s Lenin’s Tomb."

'Anti-racist' and 'left' is not something I immediately associate with Harry's Place, so I made my excuses and left. No doubt the 'thesis', only one part of a threatened series, would put me right if I could be bothered, but I couldn't.

8/28/2010 08:20:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Heh (from)

8/30/2010 11:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...

As for Bob who remembers Bosnia, I have to say I was nodding along in a yeah, damn right sort of way for several paragraphs - until I got to the part where the membership of the brave new true Left (which remembers Bosnia) was revealed as Marko, Jim Denham and the Drink-Soaked Trots. Then we were off into some stuff about the SWP allying with right-wing Islamists shock horror, and after that my eyes started to glaze over.

I'm coming to the conclusion that you can formulate a general rule about left oppositionalism. Let X stand for an ideology or social movement which is consistently denounced by the Right. If you're on the Left and oppose X, you will sooner or later end up lining up with either (a) defenders of X or (b) the Right. Works for Communism (I was a big anti-Communist way back when, until I realised I was an even bigger anti-anti-Communist); works for Leninism; seems to work for Islamism.

9/07/2010 09:09:00 AM  

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