Thursday, February 15, 2007

Some might say that's rich coming from you

Heavyweight cultural and political commentator Noel Gallagher has lashed out at the Prime Minister in an interview with Newsnight. Pulling no punches, the pugnacious Oasis leader was critical of Tony Blair's 'presidential' leadership and the Iraq war, both of which, the guitarist claims, have tarnished the Labour Party forever. There were no kind words for the leader of the opposition, either. David Cameron is "no different" and is "like a songwriter who's eternally ripping off someone else's song," said the songwriter who gave us tunes such as Cigarettes & Alchohol (basically a rewrite of T-Rex's Get It On [Bang A Gong]), Don't Look Back In Anger (which steals the piano riff from John Lennon's Imagine, before turning into Watching The Wheels - again by John Lennon), Hello (the ending of which is so similar to Gary Glitter's Hello, Hello, I'm Back Again he got a co-writing credit), Step Out (the chorus of which is so similar to Stevie Wonder's Uptight [Everything's Alright] he also got a co-writing credit), Shakermaker (essentially the same tune as I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing by the New Seekers), Fade Away (the first verse of which bears an uncanny resemblance to Freedom by Wham!), Wonderwall (the title of which was originally a George Harrison album) not to mention innumerable lazy references to Beatles lyrics, songs and albums scattered throughout the band's output. So it's easy to see where he got the analogy from.

Still, one has to admire his....chutzpah.

I haven't really paid any attention to Oasis since (eerily enough, in a spooky New Labour parallel) 1997, so seeing their performance at The Brits last night was something of a shock. They were horrendous, a grotesque parody of themselves. Liam stood with the posture of on orangutan. An orangutan with rickets. And his vocal 'delivery' was excruciating. It sounded like the rock and roll lifestyle has not so much caught up with him, but sped up behind him in a truck, run him down, reversed back over him again to make sure, then climbed out and twatted him with hammers.

You can see a clip of it for yourself here. Although I wouldn't recommend it.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Death, where is thy Sting?

Ronald Reagan once postulated that the scariest words in the English language are: “Hello, we’re from the government, and we’re here to help.” But he was wrong, because the scariest words in the English language were in fact uttered last night by Sting at The Grammy Awards: “Ladies and gentlemen, we are The Police, and we’re back!” And not just as a one off horror show either, but (and we didn’t see this coming) a world tour and everything.

Bong! Hear the clanging chimes of doom! The end is upon us. The dead will rise up from their graves and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse will start greasing their saddles as Sting and his merry cohorts haul their sorry arses around the globe playing their hideous brand of reggae tinged rock/pop. It’s all described in the Book of Revelation. We are officially living in the end of days. Global warming? Meteoric impact? Nuclear Armageddon? Pah. They are all nothing compared to the resurgence of the beast Gordon Sumner belting out Roxanne yet again (because, apparently, she doesn’t have to put on the red light, put on the red light, put on the red light).

Oh, the humanity.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Media try to drag up 'shady' drugs past. Entire nation yawns.

Quick poll. Does anyone, anywhere, give a honking bum trumpet whether David Cameron smoked cannabis in his schooldays or not? Certain sections of the media seem unhealthily obsessed with this 'story', for reasons that I cannot fathom. If he didn’t smoke jazz cigarettes a quarter of a century ago, then there is no story. Whereas if he did smoke jazz cigarettes a quarter of a century ago... then there is still no story. None. Whatsoever. In the meantime I have yet to hear a single person respond with anything other than yawns – not even the Home Secretary is bothering to make political capital out of this. Even Norman Tebbit recommends that Dave simply make an official announcement to clarify the matter once and for all. That’s right: Norman Tebbit.

I wrote about this subject when it first came up during the Conservative Party’s leadership contest in October 2005. If only Dave had followed my advice, he probably wouldn’t have had to interrupt his Sunday schedule yesterday. As I said at the time:
It's a shame that he can't just release a statement along the lines of "In my youth, like many people in this country, I used some drugs on a recreational basis. Whilst it was fun at the time, it was a long time ago and bears no relevance to my life anymore. Now that we've got that cleared up, please can we move onto the real issues at stake here?" Just release that and kill the issue cold. Perhaps then we could finally engage in an intelligent conversation and free debate about drugs that doesn't immediately degenerate into a cacophony of hypocritical bluster at the very mention of the word.
And it is hypocritical, of course. Journalists whipping up a story about someone’s predilection for illegal substances is like a troupe of clowns starting a campaign to punish the wearing of big shoes and white face make up. Media folk everywhere: give it up, nobody cares. This must be the first recorded instance of lots of fire, but no smoke. In the meantime, Cameron should clarify one way or the other. "Yes, I did smoke cannabis. What of it?" or "No, I didn't smoke cannabis. What of it?" Either way, outside of tabloid press editorial meetings, nobody is remotely interested.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Daily Mail chief displays poor understanding of political ideology

Catching up on old news, did anyone else see our old friend Paul Dacre’s bizarre rant last week about the BBC and the ‘assault’ on British values? (Dacre is, for anyone unaware, the editor-in-chief of the Daily Mail. He usually keeps a very low profile, rarely giving interviews. He’s like the Willy Wonka of the British newspaper industry, although more sinister.) Most curious of all was his comment that the BBC is “exercising a kind of cultural Marxism”. Which doesn’t make a lot of sense, really. I suppose what he really means is that there is a leftist slant in the BBC’s news coverage (although I have always thought that such a charge is overstated a lot of the time – considering the sheer volume of news that the BBC covers, it remains neutral for the most part in my opinion). Norm has counter-argued this point better than I could, but to describe the Beeb as ‘Marxist’ is intellectually incoherent. There is no textbook definition for the term ‘Marxist’ anyway, but the defining characteristic would be an economic interpretation of history, with particular emphasis on who controls the means of production and the subsequent inherent contradictions of capitalism. Now, I can’t claim to consume all of the BBC’s daily output, but I don’t think they do this very often. By all means, accuse the BBC of having a left-wing bias, but please, if you’re going to brandish the term ‘Marxist’ at least demonstrate a basic understanding of what that means. I suggest, Mr Dacre, that you sign up for a course covering basic political philosophy.

Honour hiding to nothing

The cash-for-honours affair must be a crisis if Tony Blair is prepared to show up for Radio 4’s Today programme. Appearances by the PM on that show are as rare as hen’s teeth – he’s usually much happier to appear in stage managed, touchy-feely interviews with Richard and Judy. He’s still refusing to step down, despite pressure from all quarters, which is hardly surprising. He must be confident of his own innocence then – if charges were to be brought against him, and he was then forced to resign, his reputation would be tarnished forever. Meanwhile, if he were to stand down now, as many would like, it would be a tacit admission of guilt and the effect would be the same. Better (for him and his government, anyway) to hang on and ride out the storm – assuming, that is, the whole thing will eventually blow over.

Something clearly stinks though, and this is the sad outcome of a system of poorly regulated party funding and the continued existence of the honours system in the first place. The solution? Full state funding for major political parties, audited bi-annually by an external company. Private donations or ‘loans’ should be illegal. This is not an ideal situation – everyone should have the right to financially support a political organisation if they wish – but if it would rid us of shady backroom deals with party benefactors and ensure that no party has a vested interest with any outside individual, corporation or trade union, it would be a price worth paying. We should also abolish the ridiculous honours system. It’s 2007 – do we need ‘knights’? No, we do not. Although I might be prepared to tolerate it if such titles were dispensed on the condition that the recipient must, at all times, wear a full suit of armour and travel everywhere on horseback. They must rescue damsels in distress on a regular basis and, if called upon to do so, slay the odd dragon. That, at least, would be entertaining for the rest of us.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

These things take time

Oh dear blog, how I have neglected thee...

If only real life didn't have such a tendency to get in the way of my blogging intentions. And there is so much to discuss too. Rest assured, there will be a proper catch up tomorrow. Promise.

In the meantime, if anyone's reading this, suggestions for topics of discussion are gratefully received.