Thursday, 30 April 2009

Iraq & Anthony Charles Lynton Blair

First things first: I am sorry I haven't posted recently. I've been rather busy on both work and leisure fronts but also taking some time to digest the McBride scandal and the budget ramifications.

Correct me if I'm wrong but in today's media coverage of the end of the British Army's combat mission in Iraq there seems a distinct lack of analysis into the machinations which took them there in the first place. Of course, I support and admire the soldiers who had to do that horrendous job and they deserve a good showing in the media. But today there was precious little - if anything - about our last Prime Minister, the media and the intelligence services and how they coalesced to shore up a pack of lies and distortions in order to invade Iraq. It was a disgraceful episode in modern British history and the people involved should be held up for opprobrium. The only trouble is that the media - apart from the Guardian, the Daily Mirror and a few pockets at the BBC (remember, that was when the Blair-sycophant Andrew Marr was head of political reporting) - collaborated in deceiving the public by playing up Saddam's 'threat' and minimising important dissenting voices, such as weapons inspectors and reiterating and expanding on Tony Blair's falsehood-packed speeches in the run up to war. Some few journalists have apologised for this; most haven't. Perhaps that explains the strange and deafening silence.

In that odd period leading up to the outbreak of war I was pro-invasion, mainly because I had begun to see that, many honourable exceptions aside, a large section of the organised anti-war brigade was composed of pious and under-informed students; Marxists who, as the far-Left always do, felt no ideological objection to jumping into bed with the new villains on the block, extreme-right-wing Islamic extremists and their pals who formed the third part of the stop the war crowd. Add to them the usual ragbag of conspiracy theorists, hippies, crypto-Jew-haters and tin foil hatters that still constitute the 'alternative scene' today. There were high-profile members of this crowd. Ian McKellen was in the Guardian in Jan 2003, I remember (I have a flashbulb memory of the moment - London was on high-terrorist alert and I was on the Tube going to the opening of a play I'd written), saying that he'd have appeased Adolf Hitler, 'because there's always got to be a better way than a war'.

So I heaped scorn on that lot. However, there was a one problem: the antis were correct on one central point - the case for war was false, a fabrication of Saddam Hussein's WMD capability. But Blair's new Labour had most of the press and tv in its pocket in those days and he got his war, a war most British people didn't want. That pack of lies got a lot of people killed and though I don't want to sound like George Galloway, I believe without doubt that Blair and Alistair Campbell should have ended up in court over the affair.

The insult added to the injury of this episode was that the government that railroaded the Army into the war then set about stabbing it in the back by consistently failing it logistically, a situation that continues to this day and which has caused the death of a lot of British soldiers one way and another (See Brown's decision yesterday to send only half the troops asked for in Afghanistan). An army officer of my acquaintance was very candid to me about Iraq and Afghanistan in 2007: "When it started we were up for it - we were bored. But then they never backed us up properly and now we've had enough. The Ministry of Defence is a disgrace."
Read this Standpoint article by a Min. of Def. mole for a snapshot of that Ministry in action.

It is only the Army that comes out of this with any honour. Blair's now earning 8,000 dollars a minute on the lecture circuit and telling the Pope how to run his organisation.

I'll close with a classic Anthony Charles Lynton Blair quote from around the time of the Gilligan scandal:
"I only know what I believe."

Just the sort of thing you'd expect a criminal to say.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Cohen's Orwell Rant and Expenses

Nick Cohen’s boozed-up rant at the Orwell debate provoked a few thoughts. He gives the impression the prize is a kind of repository of Orwelline writing virtue. It isn’t. If it was they would never have awarded it to our old pal David Aaronovitch, who was and is one of the greatest new Labour sycophants; a man who, by propagandizing the new Labour project, gave his energy and approval to the corruption of language via a partnership of government spin doctors and "client journalists", which was one of the most troubling features of the Blair years. As Orwell and Auden pointed out, when language gets corrupted thought gets corrupted; and corrupt language and thinking has been in great evidence in the past 11 years and beyond. Auden, in September 1, 1939, called the 30s a low, dishonest decade. Well, the past decade can easily be so described. Cohen's points about a de facto conspiracy among the BBC and the Guardian to do down Euston Manifesto type journalists who won't swallow the Left's take on Islamism and related matters is worth serious consideration.

However, if you, like me, revere Orwell, you will be slightly surprised to find that not only has David Aaronovitch won the award in the past; but so have Polly Toynbee, Johann Hari and, last and least, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. I either didn't notice at the time or I have erased it from my mind because it is too painful to be held there. Toynbee and Hari have never written a word I have found 'original, beautiful', or 'showing steely analysis and courageous independence of mind'. They simply parrot Islington dinner party socialism/big government solutions, even when big government solutions have been found as wanting as small government sink-or-swim. I would re-award the prize to Toynbee myself if she had the 'courageous independence of mind' to admit that her - and Labour's - big ideas for the poor have caused more harm - to the poor and everyone else - than good. I can't help thinking George Orwell would have noticed by now.
As for Alibhai-Brown, she is an incompetent writer who, I suspect, prospers in the London media scene because she is a Pakistani Muslim who, like so many of her demographic, can exploit an imagined slight or deploy a greivance faster than you can say 'institutional racism'. I once made a study of her Evening Standard columns. They were like the extended and ever so slightly loopy letters you see in local newspapers. I dare say the editor found it easier to run them than to ask Alibhai-Brown to write coherently. I know for a fact the sub-editors at the Independent, where she also plies a trade, thought she was a moron. See her "interview" Nick Cohen here about a book he wrote and she, unbelieveably, hadn't bothered to read.

Cohen says Gordon Brown connived at Martin Bright's removal from the New Statesman, on account of Bright's attacks on Ken Livingstone at a time when Gilligan was uncovering the excesses of Chairman Ken's fiefdom and making the first big cracks in the Livingstone and therefore Labour power base. This I can well believe. Brown is a vengeful control freak. But Cohen goes too far in calling Oborne and Hitchens 'utterly mediocre men'. Hitchens is pompous and priggish, but he's no client journalist for the Tories - who he hopes will be destroyed - in the way that Aaronovitch and Toynbee have been for Labour. He's written two interesting and compelling books that, while badly flawed, ask some very powerful and awkward questions of the ruling class and has been prepared for the public ridicule and opprobrium that it caused him. He has also visited countries such as Pakistan and South Africa and exposed terrible truths about them. That's quite Orwelline, I think. Oborne's book, The Triumph of the Political Class, is a work that the author of Animal Farm would have positively relished, notwithstanding Oborne's conservatism. Cohen decries both Hitchens and Oborne because 'they are on a hundred grand a year'. Well, I don't suppose Cohen has felt that nothing-but-fluff-in-your-pocket feeling for quite some time either.

Also, both Hitchens and Oborne have exposed more Doublethink, Goodthink and Crimethink, in other words the many ugly truths behind the new Labour media mirage than Martin Bright and many another centre-left writer have (and it is important to remember that the literary prize circuit is mainly a liberal\left-wing talking shop - note the judges, Comrade Ian Jack and Left-Wing BBC Millionaire Pensioner Jennie Abramsky). They reckon Ms Abramsky, a Holland Park Comprehensive aristocrat, has the biggest pension in the public sector. That'll keep Mandelson awake at night). Bright admitted in his Despatches programme, if memory serves me right, that he kept quiet for a long time about Livingstone and his various abuses for the sake of not handing any advantage to the Right. Almost every centre left journalist in London did, didn't they?

Saw Jacqui Smith's "difficult" interview on Channel 4 tonight. Shameless and arrogant (very much giving the impression she was doing us a favour by even deigning to discuss it - a typically baby boomer political class stance) - and the cockney accent's getting stronger by the day. Does she think that will help her in Redditch? Start packing yer bags, Jacqui, your seat's already lost. She's insisting she's done nothing wrong. Channel 4 News' fact list is useful in reaching a conclusion.

Best news item was this list, going back four years, of MPs' receipts and expenses that is due to make an appearance in full by July. Panic is spreading in Westminster. According to the news report, some MPs are considering going to law to stop the public seeing them. Squeal, piggies, squeal!

I hope the policeman who deliberately shoved Ian Tomlinson to the ground moments before he died will be punished appropriately and not allowed, as so often happens, to effectively get away with it.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Yes, Dave, But Who *Paid* For It?

Jacqui Smith; discuss. David Aaronovitch did yesterday in his Times column. Aaronovitch, it seems to me, has been waiting for an opportunity to present his readers with a defence of the institutionalised corruption of parliamentary perks. This opportunity has eluded him for some time, because he knows full well that even his powers of sophistic argument cannot defend shameless fiddling by the political classes. But, lo and behold, Smith's porn-on-the-taxpayers' tab suddenly suggested itself. 'Our stinking prurience' roars Dave, 'will bring about the subornation of public servants.' Because 'the media and the public will always find something to condemn in what MPs were getting up to'.

This made me think: hang on, Dave, you're a decaffeinated Marxist and fervent Blairite social democrat, you've spent most of your life banging on about 'The People'. But isn't it funny how when the chips are down, according to Dave, 'The People' are almost always wrong? In other words 'The People' don't deserve or shouldn't want to know that their Home Secretary has effectively embezzled 100,000 pounds by claiming her sister's spare bedroom is her main home and they don't deserve or shouldn't want to know that every tiny expense, from a bath plug to pornography, is being coughed up by 'The People'. They ought not want to know that the House of Lords has peers prepared to direct their activities in any direction for five grand an hour.

Comrade Aaronovitch hasn't had much to say about that strange contradiction in his political thought. Instead, he snatched at the opportunity afforded by those journalists disapproving of paid-for porn to show how open-minded he is about porn. Good luck to him. He's looked at porn in his time, I have and so's everyone else. So what? I don't care that it was porn, I care who paid for the porn.

He seems very exercised by 'hypocrisy' of journalists disapproving of pornography. But has he ever railed against the hypocrisy of journalists who laid down at the feet of Alistair Campbell and new Labour and entered into what was effectively a conspiracy to deceive their readers?*

Dave deplores that the political class (Labour, Lib Dem and Tory) is now liable to be exposed to further public derision because a database containng a trove of expenses abuses, fiddles and sharp practice is being hawked round the the national newspapers. He says The People's 'stinking prurience' has created a market for this database and the subornation of public servants. As Rigsby used to say in Rising Damp: 'Myyyyyyyyyyyyy God!' Let me tell you something, Davey boy, the subornation of public servants really got going when politics became a gold-dusted, perk-encrusted career and not a vocation for people who had useful life experience, principles and wisdom.

One of the problems, if not the problem with powerful socialists/social democrats is that money, though the most important thing in their lives, is not actually very real to them. Where money comes from is not a matter of first or even secondary importance; where it goes is terribly important. There's always some more to be requisitioned from somewhere and anyone who asks any questions about this is decidedly infra dig. This all comes out of the studied money snobbery of the educated centre-left classes who came of age under the Thatcher years. Very few of them, it seems to me, have lived hand-to-mouth on money they have chiselled out of working in normal jobs outside the public sector, which is the only way to really understand money and how ordinary people, new Labour's 'hard-working families' aka 'The People', think about it. The greatest example of this is Gordon Brown, whose one big idea to solve the 'Crunch is to burn The People's money (their future earnings) to get another debt boom (aka the British Economy) going again.

Talking of which, the G20 party might as well go home without meeting. The French and the Germans disagree with Gordon and Barack and that's that. Hardly a cosy love-in of one-world-ism...

On the political right, Simon Heffer in the Telegraph addresses the same issue at Aaronovitch, and makes slightly more sense, but his column soon sinks into a dreary political speech about 'reform'. Given the sort of people currently in politics and those bubbling under (who I suspect will prove to be even more shameless) how can MPs reform themselves? I don't believe it is possible.

*source: Private information and Peter Oborne's Triumph of the Political Class; Simon & Schuster 2007, pages 233 onwards.