Friday, April 28, 2006

Typical

Bleeding typical. A tumultuous week for our increasingly embattled government and I’m too busy with work demands and an imminent flat sale/house purchase to spend any time blogging.

The Prescott saga has to be the most disturbing story of all though. How. Could. Anyone? Never has the phrase “bulldog chewing a wasp” been more appropriate.

*shudders*

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Bring back Paul Daniels

Good news: renowned illusionist David Blaine is due to embark upon a new whacky, world-record-beating stunt next week. He plans to spend a week ensconced in a water-filled container in New York.

Bad news: he will have access to oxygen. Story here.

There will also be an interactive element where bystanders can ask him questions during his ordeal. Just think what fascinating insights that will give us:

Specator 1:
How is it, David?

Blaine:
Wet and cold.

Spectator 2:
How is it, David?

Blaine:
Wet and cold.

(And so on.)

One question: Why?

Monday, April 24, 2006

Two peas in a pod

An interesting story in The Times today about The Nazi Formerly Known As David Myatt. The founder of the British National Socialist Movement, Myatt is the alleged author of a fascist terrorist booklet and was once leader of the far-right, Hitler-worshipping troglodytes known as Combat 18. Myatt is also said to have been an "inspirational" figure to David Copeland, perpetrator of the horrific Soho nail bombings in 1999.

So why was this man in the news today? Well, he’s converted to Islam. An extreme form of Islam in fact. The jihadist, kafir-slaughtering variety to be precise.

My first reaction to this story was to think that this was very strange, almost surreal. But not for long. After reading the article in full I soon remembered that, actually, this isn’t at all surprising because there aren’t many tangible differences between the philosophies (for want of a better word) of Islamic extremists and Nazis. They're called Islamofascists for a reason, after all.

Myatt (now known as Abdul Aziz ibn Myatt) supports the killing of any Muslim who breaks his oath to Islam and wants to see the creation of a Muslim superstate. He goes on (and on):
"The pure authentic Islam of the revival, which recognises practical jihad (holy war) as a duty, is the only force that is capable of fighting and destroying the dishonour, the arrogance, the materialism of the West . . . For the West, nothing is sacred, except perhaps Zionists, Zionism, the hoax of the so-called Holocaust, and the idols which the West and its lackeys worship, or pretend to worship, such as democracy. They want, and demand, that we abandon the purity of authentic Islam and either bow down before them and their idols, or accept the tame, secularised, so-called Islam which they and their apostate lackeys have created. This may well be a long war, of decades or more — and we Muslims have to plan accordingly. We must affirm practical jihad — to take part in the fight to free our lands from the kafir (unbelievers). Jihad is our duty."
Those similarities in full, then:

Dedication to the principle of war? Check.
Belief in a Zionist conspiracy? Check.
Holocaust denial? Check.
Denunciation of democracy as a sham? Check.
Commitment to preserving a "pure" race? Check.

The parallels between extremist Islam and Nazism are obvious and plenty. Apart from having to grow a big beard, the transition will have been seamless for Myatt. He can continue to spout exactly the same hateful lies and racist bile that he has always done. Perhaps the biggest difference is that he could now in all feasibility join the Respect "coalition". Obviously they would never have tolerated his views when he was an avowed Nazi, but now he’s converted to the most extreme interpretation of Islam I’m sure he’d be very welcome. After all, as long as he's speaking from an anti-materialist, anti-American, anti-Zionist platform he'll find plenty of friends there. Galloway and Myatt unlikely bedfellows? Don't count on it.

Update: Coincidentally, Oliver Kamm has written a piece on the overlap between the far-right and Respect in The Times today, going into far more detail than I could hope to. Alternatively, it can be read on his blog.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

"I want to be a part of it. . ."


I’m off to New York for five nights with Citizeness Sane so there will be no posting from me over the Easter period. Will be back in the UK next Wednesday and back to grim reality next Thursday.

So until then. . . .

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Ciao?

Yet to be confirmed, but it looks like the Italians have booted out (albeit by a very slender margin) that old crook Silvio Berlusconi. And a good thing too. How somebody who has vested interests in 90% of his country’s media could ever have been put in such a position is beyond my understanding. Imagine Rupert Murdoch being made PM in Britain and you’re not even close to an equivalent. Imagine Rupert Murdoch with shady links to organised crime, money laundering and bribing the judiciary and you’re getting there. Imagine Rupert Murdoch wearing a bandana like Silvio and shudder.

One of the many things I like about the British is that this just wouldn’t happen here. George Orwell once said that the reason fascism never took hold in Britain is that the sight of men in black uniforms goose-stepping through the streets of London would simply have caused fits of giggles. We could never take these people seriously as a rule. I’m not saying that Berlusconi is a fascist – although he does have something of an Il Duce complex – but somebody like him could never be supported by the majority of British voters for the same reason. If a power hungry media mogul stood for election in the UK he would be universally despised. We have a healthy dislike and mistrust of wealthy businessmen in this country (with the possible, unfathomable, exception of Richard Branson) and a long tradition of business interests being marginalised or discontinued should they ever enter the political fray. Long may this continue.

Having the likes of Murdoch around is bad enough: funnily enough, I’m not a fan of right wing, Australian-born, American citizens making billions from owning large pieces of our country’s media but not paying a penny in tax. This is objectionable enough. Electing him, or anyone like him, to high political office would be unthinkable.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Quelle surprise!

The French government has capitulated to the protesters of the controversial and bitterly unpopular CPE. They caved in after thousands of people - many of whom would have been unaffected by the implications of the law anyway - took to the streets or went on strike in resistance to what seems to me an essential reform for their economy. If there was one problem with the CPE it’s that it was perhaps too discriminatory - why should only the under-26 be subject to the change? Other than this it seems clear that France needs this kind of change if it is ever going to create jobs for its people in the long term.

President Jacques Chirac says that the CPE will be replaced by ‘other measures’ to tackle youth unemployment. Oh. Well, job creation remains, to my mind, the most effective means of reducing unemployment. But what stifles job creation in France? The rigidity of their labour laws and the associated costs. So the best thing to do would be to free up French companies to hire and fire on a more flexible basis according to the cycle of their own business wouldn’t it? So what they need is a law designed to do this. A law like the CPE perhaps? Oops. Tried that and it didn’t work.

Back to the drawing board then I guess. All they've got to do is figure out the following: how to reduce unemployment without creating jobs. Good luck!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

When I was young, PC meant police constable. Nowadays I can't seem to tell the difference.

"Political correctness gone mad!" says judge. You wouldn’t usually pay any attention to anyone uttering this banal cliché – invariably it’s going to be used by a Daily Mail type banging on about gay adoption or something. You’d be even less likely to pay attention to a judge using it – most likely he’s just outraged that women are allowed to join his golf club. But in this case, the man has a point.

A ten year old boy from the Greater Manchester area was hauled before a court, having been accused of racially abusing a fellow pupil. Clearly I am not condoning the use of racially offensive words: in fact they make me sick. But what kind of country is this becoming when a ten year old child – who probably has no comprehension of the true meaning of the words he is using – has to be brought in front of a court to be punished for his behaviour? I left school fifteen years ago, so things may have changed a little, but I distinctly remember a collection of people called ‘teachers’ who are supposed to deal with this sort of thing themselves. Perhaps – and I’m just thinking out loud here - they could have talked to this boy and clearly demonstrated to him how wrong and offensive and disgusting it is to use these words? To perhaps, I don’t know, teach him? Maybe get his parents involved? But clearly not. A ten year old child uses racist language in the playground? Let’s call the police – they’ve got nothing better to do after all.

How do you suppose the conversation went at the police station?
Duty Sergeant:
OK, what is there to deal with today?

Officer:
Well sir, there was an armed robbery in Salford. . . a knifing at a night club in Oldham Street. . . loads of burglaries in Fallowfield last week. . . a fatal shooting in the Moss Side area. . . Oh, but hang on! What’s this? A child used some racist words at school!

Duty Sergeant:
Right. Put everything else on hold. We’re going in!
Judge Finestein adjourned the case until 20th April and asked the prosecutors to have a think about whether the case really served the public interest. Hmmm. Tough one. It also transpires that, since the incident took place, the two boys concerned have actually become friends – something that will teach this kid more about tolerance of other ethnic groups than any number of court hearings brought against him by hysterical PC mandarins.

Speaking of hysterical (please forgive the Daily Mail link – I promise not to make a habit of it), Chris Keates, leader of the teaching union NASUWT, accused the judge of “feeding the pernicious agenda” of right wing extremists. She went on to say that:
Judges have a responsibility to consider the potential impact of their comments. The timing of his remarks is particularly unfortunate. The local elections are imminent and candidates from the extreme right are being fielded in many cities.
Judge Finestein is Jewish, so you can see how he would want to further the cause of people like the British National Party. Ms Keates later regretted her remarks in this context – she had not realised that Mr Finestein was Jewish. Yes, it must have been difficult to work that out with a name like that mustn’t it? Finestein - that good traditional Welsh surname.

In fairness to the Greater Manchester Police, it turns out that they did not personally favour the case going to court, preferring instead to issue the boy with a caution – which still seems an unnecessary over-reaction. The boy’s mother rejected this approach as it would mean admitting that her son was racist. As if a ten year old boy can really be classified as being racist and be labelled as such for life. But under Home Office guidance, not accepting the caution automatically means the case must go before the courts when really, all that was ever needed was teacher and parent intervention to educate the child as to the error of his ways. Common sense anyone?

In the absence of Richard Littlejohn, I guess I’ll just have to say it myself: You couldn’t make it up.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

A Pyrrhic victory

Mass protests and strikes continue to take place across France in opposition to the First Employment Contract (Contrat Premiere Embauche – or CPE). The CPE seeks to limit the protection guaranteed to workers aged 26 or under in the hope that this will stimulate job creation in a country where youth unemployment is around 23%. After all, it seems a reasonable assumption that businesses are much more likely to offer jobs if they can do so under a more flexible arrangement and not instead be obliged to provide a job for life to anyone and his extended family who so much as fills out the application form.

The French have reacted to this like a collective insult to all their mothers and a huge cross-section of the French workplace have gone on strike (even though the majority of them will not personally be affected by this law in the slightest – but any excuse, eh?). Meanwhile, hordes of unwashed students have taken to the streets in great numbers in an attempt to recapture the spirit of 1968. According to Bruno Julliard, head of the student union Unef, the protesters are “on the edge of victory”.

But what sort of victory will this be? You will still have the highest unemployment in the West, while French business will be ever more reluctant to create domestic jobs because of the crippling cost - which will hit the younger population the hardest – and will surely seek to offshore their workforce wherever possible. So how is any of that going to be good for France?

Reform or die, France.

Meanwhile, you have to admire this advert from budget airline Jet2 who have a stark message for the striking air traffic controllers across the channel: Get back to work you lazy frogs! Crude, but effective.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Everyday is like Monday

So, another Monday, another week of work, another uphill struggle to the weekend ahead of us. What news nuggets might we chew over today?

  • The Blair-Brown feud raises its ugly head again. Yawn, yawn, yawn. Like everyone else in this country (with the possible exception of Alan Milburn), I am bored shitless hearing about this. Clearly there is a problem between the two: neither camp even bothers denying it anymore, instead disputing only the extent of the divide. Blair likened the coverage of the affair to a soap opera. Possibly. But at least soap operas have alternating storylines sometimes. There has to be a better way of settling this. I propose an arm-wrestle, live on BBC1, after Eastenders tomorrow evening. My money’s on the chunky Scotsman.
  • The Liberal Democrats have launched their manifesto for the upcoming local elections on 4th May. Offering “fresh choices”, they pledge to cut crime and scrap council tax. Sounds great doesn’t it? Oh, but hang on. I see some problems. Firstly, you would no more expect the Lib Dems to cut crime than you would expect Wayne Rooney to solve Fermat’s last theorem. This is the same party that, not too long ago, advocated sending young car crime offenders on little driving weekends when they should, of course, be repeatedly beaten with shitty sticks. Secondly, they intend to replace the council tax with the local income tax which, by many accounts, would be even more expensive for the average tax payer. To be avoided.
  • Regarding the whole issue of party ‘loans’, I think state funding of parties is the best solution. By no means a perfect one, but definitely preferable to the current situation. Our political parties should not be in thrall to business, powerful lobby interests, trade unions or secret individual backers. Regulated state funding would ensure maximum party independence; individual donations or ‘loans’ of any size should be forbidden. That should clean the shady bastards up once and for all.
  • Meanwhile, in a rare excursion for me into football, it’s great to see a potential title race for the Premiership opening up after a full season of dominance by dull, dull, dull Chelsea. It will also be nice to see that irritating tosser Jose Mourinho and his huge squad of dullards actually breaking into a sweat. It’s just a shame that the late challenge is coming from the Great Satan itself: Manchester United. Rock and a hard place, rock and a hard place.
  • Well, Monday is starting to draw to a close. Just a few more hours to grind out, then it’s off home to listen to new offerings from The Flaming Lips and the inimitable Morrissey.