Friday, July 29, 2011

Another Prediction Of Mine Comes True (Almost)

Unless I'm mistaken, I think the Leveson Inquiry into phone-hacking has all of the powers and remits suggested in this post from last April.

I don't even remember writing it, but some kind soul in Farnham read it earlier today.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Prediction Of Mine Comes True (Almost)

On 22 June 2011 I wrote of the cheap labour lobby that,

"I wonder just how long it will be before a Conservative MP suggests lowering the school leaving age to 14".

Well, the answer was 36 days.

It has only taken just over a month for that prediction to come true; and the suggestion was made not by a Tory MP but by Digby Jones, who, having been both the head of the CBI and a New Labour minister, is probably just as good as one.

While he might think he is being well-intentioned, and the nature of his utterances do tend to make one believe that he is well-intentioned, his views are so primitive that they almost make me weep. We are in the 21st Century, and he wants to reduce the school leaving age for some to 14. This is mindless, unthinking reaction red in tooth and claw, a call to counter-revolution; a demand for an end to progress and a turning back of the clock. It is the exposure of the lie that the men who worked in heavy manufacturing in the Midlands, the North of England and Scotland were told, that they couldn't compete with cheaper labour from the Far East. If they couldn't compete even when their rights as trades unionists were smashed, how can their grandsons be expected to compete now? At a time when food and energy prices are soaring, what plans would Jones have to simultaneously reduce the cost of living, as great an impediment to 'competitiveness' as high wages? Sometimes I think some people at the top of our society won't be happy until we've all been herded back into the workhouse in rags. They'd go one better than the Victorians - they'd sell off the workhouse as a going concern.

There is no merit in this idea, none whatsover. It could not be realised successfully without massive public spending in other areas which would render any long-term benefits null and void, Oh, it would be hash in the bong for the cheap labour lobby, for whom cheap labour is as addictive as crack cocaine. For all practical purposes theirs is the most destructive subculture of addiction in the country. They can't get enough of it, no matter where it comes from. But what would it say about us as a culture? Whatever it would say, it wouldn't be very flattering.

When faced with such primitive views being espoused by one of the country's most influential people, a guy who'll always get the call to go on to 'Question Time' before me no matter how banal and reactionary his opinions, I can only be afraid for the world my boy might grow up in. Digby Jones might be well-intentioned, but his good intentions would pave a road to Hell for others to walk down. Thank God for God, for giving the poor something to hope and believe in.

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On The Suggestion That Anders Behring Breivik Be Charged With Crimes Against Humanity

Far be it from me to comment upon a jurisprudence of which I know absolutely nothing, but it seems to me that charging Breivik with crimes against humanity, offences which attract a maximum sentence of 30 years under the Norwegian penal code, as opposed to murder, which carries a maximum sentence of 21 years, would be a rather un-Norwegian act.

A great deal of time, care and thought has obviously gone into the crafting of the Norwegian penal code. The penalty of 21 years imprisonment for murder seems rather too exact for it to be anything other than the product of such thought. To try to find a punishment which you think is suitable for the criminal rather than trying the criminal for the crimes they have committed is something that any British government would do without a moment's hesitation. However, in this case it would require the expression of prosecutorial creativity. That would not only be a diminution of Norwegian jurisprudence but would also be also an act of disrespect against the memories of Breivik's victims. They didn't believe Norwegians should act like neocons. It would be unbecoming if Norwegians acted like neocons in their name.

Revisit the penalties for murder under Norwegian law, for sure, but don't bend it out of its current shape on account of that troll. If that's what they do, they should go ahead and enact their own version of the PATRIOT Act, if only because they'd be no different from the neocons, so they might as well be consistent. The neos have no respect for the rule of law, and if Norway's criminal justice establishment were to try him for crimes against humanity when the appropriate charge under that country's laws is murder in the hope of him receiving a longer sentence than that which could rightly be imposed on him for his crimes purely on the basis that he might then get a heavier sentence, they themselves could rightly be accused of having no respect for the rule of law either.


A Short Thought On Ockers

Dior-clad ockers cavorting about inappropriately in the realms of the finally sacred are still just ockers. They might all just as well have been farting about in cork-brimmed hats with coldies in their hands for all the impiety implicit in that display of arrogance. Does public understanding of Christianity not exist anymore in the land of Mary MacKillop and Daniel Mannix? If the Wagga Wagga Strollers were to mount a production of 'The Last Temptation Of Christ', they still couldn't compete with those ockers on Jordan's banks, otherwise known as Australia's cultural elite, for sheer ockerliness.

The once-jolly swagman might soon be looking for a new billabong to camp out by. He might not have read of the fate of Herod Agrippa as recorded in 'The Acts of The Apostles', nor read that most dramatic enactment of it created by Robert Graves in 'Claudius the God', which is something of a pity, really. If he had, he would have known that God will not be mocked.

O Lord, reproach me not for my arrogance. AMDG.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

The 'Sunday Times' Has Finally Gone Down The Toilet

The 'Sunday Times' finally descended down the U-bend into risibility today, going down with all guns blazing. In fairness, it's been a long time coming, having been teetering on the brink for a number of months.

The only reason I have had for buying that newspaper of late is that it publishes A.A. Gill. I suspect I might not be alone in that. Mr. Gill is very possibly the UK's second-best creator of English prose, the best being V. S. Naipaul. His TV and restaurant reviews are weekly object lessons in how English prose should be written. He stands head and shoulder above the paper's other writers, and it was disappointing to see him, in my opinion, being dragged down along with the title he writes so well for.

There have been many reasons not to buy it, principal among which has been the gradual and relentless pornogrification of its magazine. Given his age it does not yet present a risk of moral harm to my son, but the day will come when he will be old enough to be damaged by it, and that day won't be long in coming. In such circumstances, it is gratifying that the publishers have today given me a series of reasons for not buying it any more rather than merely, and rather pathetically, giving up my weekly dose of Adrian Gill - of whom more later.

First up to enter the Hall of Shame is Daisy Goodwin, writing in the Culture section, from which more can be read in the post immediately below. Her review of Asti Hustvedt's book 'Medical Muses: Hysteria in 19th Century Paris' caught my eye, for what this blog's more devoted readers will understand are obvious reasons.

She was doing well until she wrote that" is hard to credit that Charcot and his team (which included Jean Gilles de la Tourette, who discovered the eponymous syndrome)...

I don't have a clue who Jean Gilles de la Tourette, but wherever Georges Gilles de la Tourette is he might not be too happy.

Now, I appreciate that putting this error in front of me, of all people, is not unlike presenting Gary Lineker with a scoring chance in front of an open goal. While I am fully aware that my appetite for neurological arcania is vast, not everyone might share it. Indeed, having no intention of reading Hustvedt's book on 19th Century French hysterics, if only because I am in many respects living their dream, I have no way of knowing whether the mistake is Hustvedt's or Goodwin's. But to my mind, it says a lot about the quality of the fact-checking involved in the preparation of the most cerebral part of the most serious newspaper in the News International stable. Maybe Robert Murdoch should give the editor a call.

Every week, the main section of the 'Sunday Times' publishes a big profile of a person who's been in the news during the preceding week. The week ending 24th July 2011 produced several candidates whom one might think worthy of being profiled, such as Tom Watson MP, or Jens Stoltenberg, the Prime Minister of Norway, or, at a pinch, Amy Winehouse. The 'Sunday Times' of 24th July 2011 profiled - Wendi Deng, otherwise known as Mrs. Rupert Murdoch. Yes, they profiled the boss's wife.

Ms. Deng earned this accolade for slapping a saddo who allegedly struck her husband with a custard pie. While her devotion to her husband is admirable, and while I'm sure the alleged incident was alarming for all concerned, her conduct strikes me as being at the lower end of the scale of what her husband's less literate newspapers might term 'have a go heroism'. She did not foil a bank robbery, nor tackle a knifeman in a playground. She did her bit for sure, but was only presented with her chance to shine because her husband and stepson were summoned to Parliament by the Serjeant-at-Arms, on pain of contempt, in order to answer questions about the apparently systematic criminality which took place under their noses. They had initially declined to appear. They presented a defence of ignorance - and how could they have known? After all, they were only issuing orders - and the old boy got through it in one piece and is now out of the country. Whether he ever comes back is anyone's guess.

In my opinion, the profile was a grovel to the boss's wife far beyond what her conduct actually merited. Maybe next week they'll get round to profiling the politician who's leading his country through the aftermath of Europe's worst Nazi atrocity since 1945.

Then came Adrian Gill in the 'News Review' section. Sigh.

Mr. Gill was present at Rupert Murdoch's unhappy slapping with the custard pie. He doesn't write much about politics. It may be the case that he was assigned to attend by his employers. It may be the case that he has enough leverage to select his own assignments, and decided that this was worth taking in. What was noticeable was that although he is his newspaper's star attraction, his employers did not seem to consider him to be suitable to be included within the Murdoch party, meaning that he had to queue for four hours in the corridor with everyone else.

If that were the case, if I were Adrian Gill and I were ever treated so disrespectfully by my employers I'd be looking around for new ones.

For what it's worth, in my opinion Mr. Gill produced the goods for them. The proceedings were boring, one of Mr. Murdoch's persecutors has 'porcine eyes', another doesn't know the difference between Prospero and Banquo, the decision of another parliamentary committee to allow the shooting of badgers gets a good get the picture. It struck me as being a very odd piece for Mr. Gill to write, and I get the impression he wouldn't have been too bothered if he hadn't got in. He could then have made his excuses and left.

The piece de resistance of all the crap published in the 24th July 2011 edition of the 'Sunday Times' is contained in the post directly below this one. Oh, don't get me wrong, it wasn't all bad, only about 99% of it. Andrew Sullivan came back to the UK and called Fox News 'screeching, ugly propaganda', without of course commenting upon how relieved he might be that News Corporation has withdrawn its bid for BSkyB, thus saving Sky News from possibly suffering the same fate as Fox News in the future. The Business section carried an admirably neutral piece on the possible consequences that its current difficulties in the UK might have for News Corporation in the USA. However, for sheer crapness the item below is run a close second by a comment from Rod Liddle, the paper's resident Northern bloke.

In a piece on the iniquity of above-inflation rises in household energy costs imposed by privatised utility companies, Liddle wrote,

"These were botched privatisations, lucrative franchises flogged off by the last Labour government with a sort of deranged and gleeful haste to the highest bidder".

The utilities were privatised by Margaret Thatcher. If you see Rod, tell him.

So, it's farewell to the 'Sunday Times'. I look forward to reading Adrian Gill again, but not while he's there.


The 'Sunday Times' Culture Section On Amy Winehouse

"I can't believe Amy Winehouse self-harms. She's so irritating, she must be able to find someone to do it for her" -

Joke once told by one Zoe Lyons about Miss Winehouse, presumably before the latter's death on 23rd July 2011, printed in the 'Sunday Times' Culture section of 24th July 2011, Page 9. My condolences to Miss Winehouse's family.

Things sure are bad at News International.

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Letter To 'Private Eye'

Issue 1293 of 'Private Eye' came out last week. The 'Literary Review' carried a parody of Margaret Drabble's new book 'A Day In The Life Of A Smiling Woman: The Collected Stories', under the heading 'What You Didn't Miss'.

After reading it, I sent the following letter to the editor -

"While 'The Bluestockings Chapbook' sounds like the sort of menswear catalogue from which Andrew Marr might purchase his more luridly aquamarine socks - he seems to be partial to blue stockings - I have to wonder whether 'Bookworm', perhaps even subconsciously, hasn't developed a case of the Johann Haris worthy of the Orwell prize.

Their confection of "I can't blow my nose without thinking of what the conditions must be like in the handkerchief factories" seems eerily similar to Cyril Connolly's comment that Orwell "would not blow his nose without moralising on the conditions in the handkerchief industry".

I'll see if I get any feedback.



Shame on him. Shame.


The Great British Blogger Is Getting Stamped On Because Rupert Murdoch Couldn't Run A Raffle

The day of the licensed blogger will soon be upon us.

This will be the outcome of David Cameron's enquiry into media conduct, which for some reason includes social media. As far as I'm aware (and having been providing Internet commentary since 8th September 2002, I'm almost a fossil amongst bloggers), no British blogger has ever hacked into the mobile phones of The Duke of Cambridge, Sienna Miller or Milly Dowler. As far as I'm aware no British blogger has ever been sent down for hacking into anyone's mobile phone, nor been successfully sued for breaching any S & M spanker's privacy by publishing pictures of them in a spanking dungeon. However this writer, sitting in their bedroom in Glasgow, will be subject to the same degree of regulation as the multi-billion pound corporation whose employees did hack into The Duke of Cambridge's phone and were sent down for so doing, and which was successfully sued by an S & M spanker for invading his privacy. This is another example of the our ultra right-wing government using a fleeting set of circumstances to enact a permanent restriction on individual liberty. They call it not letting a good crisis go to waste. I call it tyranny.

Dave, who's been about as much use as a sieve in a thunderstorm over the past few weeks, has invited this blog's old friend the professional civil libertarian Shami Chakrabarti, occasionally ubiquitous when it suits her but never when it matters, to sit on his enquiry. Her conduct may just provide the proof of an assertion I've been making for some years - that professional civil libertarians are not interested in the liberties you have but in those they think you should have, your freedoms not the ones they choose to defend but those which they have the privilege of defining.

Many eyes will be upon her, and many voices might just be holding her to account for what she does and does not do on this enquiry. I await its findings with great interest.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Ramblings Of Enda Kenny

Irish must be the only European language which you can be unable to speak yourself but which can still leave you wondering where others have learned it.

My favourite example of this is assorted London BBC journalists' pronunciation of the word 'Gardai'. I once heard one newscaster pronounce this word 'Gorrrrrdeeeeeee', their chin almost hitting their chest on the downstroke and their nose on the upswing, the whole action performed almost balletically in a slow motion worthy of a John Woo gunfight.

From what one reads of the recent ramblings of Enda Kenny, An Taoiseach of the Republic of Ireland, he seems to have taken to speaking English in the same manner.

I am indebted to Mark Shea for pointing out that the Irish government is proposing to abolish the seal of the confessional, and that the clergy are not for it. Good for them, and shame on Kenny. There seems to be a strong but intellectually lazy strain in modern Irish thought that believes that when all else fails, you should kick the priests. Now, this mindset may stem from having been kicked by priests, or more properly that your fathers and grandfathers were, or may have been, kicked by priests (Kenny is an hereditary member of the Irish political elite, so I would doubt whether any priest has ever aimed so much as a dirty look in his direction). However not even dourly Presbyterian Scotland, the most reformed nation in Europe, with its Orange marching bands proclaiming 'For God and Ulster!' when even the most unbiased observer could fairly note their apparent distance from both, would ever dare to go so far as to break the seal of the confessional. This move would not be a reformation of the Irish law of evidence, but would be an attempt to pick a fight with the Vatican; perhaps even a deliberate attempt to have Ireland placed under interdict.

That might please the usual gobshite tendency of windy soi-disant intellectuals with Dublin 4 postcodes, and those internationalised 'businesspeople' of the type who got the country into the mess it's in and who want to be able to do what they like with whom they like when they like and how they like without any damn priest telling them what to do. However, for the very great majority of ordinary Irish people the breaking of the confessional's seal would be one break too far from their cultural roots; what would happen if the churches were closed doesn't bear thinking about. The Irish government might find that some, probably even most, Irish people would be more loyal to their churches and confessionals than they would be to Ireland, and would then find itself attacking the Irish peoples' freedom of religion, their human rights, when successive Irish governments have made not just a song and dance but a veritable pub lock-in of proclaiming the need for other nations to preserve and protect their citizens' human rights.

As I say, you can have none of the tongue yourself, and still wonder where others have learned it. I wonder what the Irish word for 'Kulturkampf' is.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011


(David Cameron (far right) at Prime Minister's Questions tomorrow)

Well, somebody had to say it, didn't they? If it's a distasteful thing to say when an old man allegedly gets a custard pie in the face, just think of how much more distasteful it was for one of his newspapers to say it of a shipful of dead Argentinian conscripts.

I have only seen the edited highlights, but on the basis of what what was available I didn't see any of the MP's asking the kind of questions they, and only really they, could have asked, such as, 'Mr. Murdoch, we must be careful not to prejudice ongoing investigations, but what do you think the discovery of such widespread and persistent lawbreaking at The News Of The World says about News Corporation's management culture? We know that News Corporation employs 53,000 people around the world, but it hasn't grown to that size with a gun at its head. Presumably just as in every other business, decisions were made by the board and were presumably carried out by subordinates. Presumably just as in every other business, the management style was set by the men at the top. After this, how can the British newspaper-buying public be sure that you and your fellow directors have not only tossed all the bad apples out of the barrel but were not responsible for them going bad by the way you as their Chairman managed their managers?'

That would have been a good one. I hope that point was made.

Tomorrow promises to be a sweaty day for David Cameron, his very own Dog Dave Afternoon. His current isolation is not that of principle, but of the bunker. The famous portrait of Catiline enduring the rhetoric of Cicero springs to mind. It was a mark of good character for him to say last week that he would have thought it bad form just to ditch his friendship with Andy Coulson on account of the latter's resignation from the government, one which to all intents and purposes was enforced. However, on hearing that I realised that while Dave may be a man of character, he also lacks toughness. He wouldn't have lasted a day in a Glasgow call-centre, a working environment which I realised many years ago was one in which it wasn't a good idea to develop close friendships, if only because the absurdly high levels of staff turnover demanded by a flexible labour market could cause them to terminate them quite abruptly.

Being rich enough not to have to work can have its downs as well as its ups.

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Monday, July 18, 2011

The Incredible Imploding British Establishment

Somewhere, Wallis and David are having a quiet laugh to themselves at the idea that people could have got so upset about the possibility of the King marrying a divorcee.

The crisis in which the Establishment has been engulfed for the past month is, in my opinion, unprecedented in our recent history. It's not quite 1688 without the anti-Catholicism, but it's coming pretty close. I can't think of anything recent which has matched it for longevity or gravity. Perhaps Profumo did, but I wasn't around for that. We are in uncharted waters here, folks. Every day is giving us something new. Our system is destabilising before our eyes, and it's wonderful to watch.

What we are witnessing here is the death rattle of the very post-1989 idea that we should concentrate upon the needs of the elites. The phone-hacking scandal has shown the British public that those who imagine themselves to be our elites are remarkably incapable elites. It should be unsurprising that Parliament is finally becoming vigourous about getting to the root of this matter - Parliament is scared, for these revelations show that for many years it has done nothing like enough about the muck in its own backyard and it now finds that it has a lot of ground to make up.

We are seeing a shift in the balance of power away from the cosy consensualism whereby Dave/Tony/Peter and Rebekah/Silvio/Nat would be very happy to socialise with each other out of office hours. While nothing improper might ever have happened, it gave an appearance of impropriety which not even the most seasoned and ruthless PR people could dispel. It gave the appearance that there were no boundaries at the top, and over the past month the public has made clear that boundaries are what they want, and lots of them.

We might even be seeing the beginning of the end of 'globalisation', that foggily pernicious, undescribable attempt to knit the world's financial markets together in pursuit of the cheapest of all possible labour. The greatest con trick that the world's bankers ever played on the public was letting us think they were on our side during the Cold War. They never were, they were only interested in us because we were anti-Communist, and their behaviour since the collapse of Communism has provided ample proof of that fact. 'Globalisation' absolutely depends on the relationship between government and business being fluid, and the public doesn't want that anymore. We've been motivated to give a toss by the sheer scale of the apparent badness that's been at work. We've called time on it all, and not a moment too soon.

These are interesting times. May we all come through them in one piece.


'A Fit And Proper Person'

I have recently heard it said that the 'fit and proper person' test applied to determine whether one should be considered worthy to run a British television station is a very difficult one to fail.

The test of whether one is a fit and proper person is also used by the Law Society of Scotland to determine whether an individual is suitable to have their name added to the Roll of Solicitors in this country. In my opinion, in the past that body has applied that test tyranically, with people suffering from medical problems, many of which have possibly been brought on the stress of having to deal with some of the individuals who disport themselves through the doors of solicitors' offices every day, being barred from applying the credentials they have spent years acquiring. That the public often benefits from the use of those credentials just as much as their holders does not ever seem to be taken into account. Those responsible for this state of affairs have cited the protection of the public as a justification for what they do and have done, a course of action which should cause every entrant to the profession to realise that their professional body considers them to be a potentially dangerous man or woman. To hear the iron tongue of those who wield the iron fist in the iron glove is never really the healthiest start to any relationship, but with the Law Society of Scotland that just seems to be the way it is.

Hopefully the relevation of just what those who are demonstrably unfit and improper can come within a hair's breadth of getting away with if they know the right people will force the Society to reassess the violence with which it has applied that test against its own members in the past. On the other hand, I wouldn't bank on it. To do so would require reassessment of its past panjandrums' actions and attitudes, and that might be be too painful for all concerned.

Lest anyone think this post is sour grapes, think again. When I was a member of the Law Society of Scotland, I was never subjected to disciplinary proceeedings, nor was ever the subject of complaint. When it comes to this stuff, officially I'm as clean as a whistle. And I wouldn't go back into it if you paid me.


Friday, July 15, 2011

My Apologies To My Readers

I have deleted the post I put up last night entitled 'A Short Thought On News Corporation's Abandonment Of Its Bid For BSkyB'.

It was coarse and mean-spirited, and of neither the intellectual nor moral standard to which I aspire. While it was probably appropriate for my own level, posting it was disrespectful to those readers who take time they could be doing other things to read what I have to say, regardless of when I bother to say it.

Please accept my apologies.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Prison Break Stories

This could be my 'Golden Arches Theory of History' moment, but a phenomenon that we haven't seen for a while in this country is a really good prison break story.

It's not that we don't have lots of prisons, we certainly do. I for one do not subscribe to the Littlejohnian view that our prisons have become little more than health resorts.

However, could it be the case that our exceptionally lenient laws regarding the remission of sentences act as an incentive for prisoners to try to stay in prison? The thought certainly struck me as plausible. Wonder if any research has been done on it.


Friday, July 08, 2011


Wouldn't it be great if News International's plans to print the last edition of 'The News Of The World' had to be abandoned because its departing staff decided to tell Jimbo Murdoch to get stuffed and went on strike in protest at their treatment?

After all, what would he be able to do to stop them? Suspend their redundancy payments? The one thing that News International presumably doesn't want at the moment is for anyone else to be suing it. Or would he try and go for the ringleaders? On what basis? That they were encouraging their colleagues to behave illegally? Just how much ice do you think that argument would cut with a judge asked to injunct News International staff from striking?

No, I think the staff of the News Of The World should turn up today, vote on strike acion and then walk out again, leaving Jimbo and Brooksy to produce their own newspaper and Keith to stew in the knowledge that all of his efforts to thwart the rights of working people in this country, one which has never had any claim over him but which has allowed him to rampage through it for no purpose higher than the pursuit of his own gain, have been in vain. By going on strike, those NoW staff being made redundant through no fault of their own would be able to make a practical demonstration of their solidarity with those people whose lives have been disrupted, and privacy invaded, by their colleagues, no matter the managerial level at which they might have sat. No matter who pays the wages, people will only take so much crap. After all, this isn't the 1980's any more, and it's not as if any trade union is going to have any long-term impact on the way anything's done.

So let's see the Murdoch staff who have made him the most money walking out of a workplace that was designed to thwart unions in disgust at the manner of their treatment in a matter in which they have done no wrong. I hope Jimbo and Brooksy have a fun day on Saturday; but it might be a long one.


Thursday, July 07, 2011

There Was The News

Once again proving that the love of money is the root of all evil (for that's really what this whole affaire's been about from start to finish), James 'Jimbo' Murdoch, the George W. Bush of the international media world, and his sinister accomplice Rebekah Brooks have closed 'The News Of The World'.

It was a classically tawdry, hole-in-the-corner Murdoch operation apparently both designed and executed with the intention of depriving the victims of their dignity at the same time as relieving them of their jobs, no doubt reminding them that they never were 'their' jobs but Keith's and Jimbo's all the time. To close 'The News Of The World' might be considered to be an act of cutting off your nose to spite your face on a similar scale to cutting your throat, but if nothing else its staff would leave its employment knowing who the real bosses were. At times like this, you have to remember the important things in life.

It was an unashamedly plutocratic act emanating from a section of moral bandwidth unknown to the general public, the sort of stunt that you pull when you actually believe, as Rupert and James Murdoch both appear to, that you can do anything that you want, and that nobody whom you might encounter in any capacity has the right to expect common decency from you. Their behaviour has been of the type exhibited by all ancien regimes before they are overthrown, obsessively protective of their own 'liberties' while contemptuous of others' liberties to the point of becoming numb to the demands of common morality. If they are social Darwinists, then I thank God I am not one, if that's what it turns you into. If Steptoe & Son actually believe that this move is not only going to make the phone-hacking scandal go away but also make the advertisers come back, they are on to plums. The scandal is not going away. The political pressure on News International, its parent, its management and its shareholders is not going to go away. No amount of pressure put on junior employees to either up-sell or cross-sell News Corporation products, or keeping the pressure on them by putting them in windowless office buildings, is going to resurrect News International. As of now, it is dead, and while it might thrash about like a decapitated chicken for a while, its influence on British public life is zero. I'd like to know just what sort of reception would have been given to any executive who ever tried to suggest to Keith and Jimbo that Nemesis would follow Hubris. The people around them probably knew better than to try.

The role of Rebekah Brooks in this scandal is puzzling. She certainly doesn't seem to be the type that would ever challenge either Keith or Jimbo. The Murdoch family seems incredibly loyal to her. One wonders why. Their relationship with her seems not dis-similar to AJP Taylor's description of Hitler's attitude to Mussolini; after he came out in support of Germany, the Fuhrer would always bend over backwards to accommodate the Duce. One has to wonder why she provokes such loyalty from such famously unsentimental businesspeople. Perhaps she has been the perfect acolyte, always willing to do what others were not in order to keep the titles in her charge at the top of the tree. While some might consider this to be a worthy quality in an employee, it doesn't by itself make you an outstanding member of the human race. The ability of human beings to damage themselves and others in order to advance the cause of 'getting on' is boundless, but then again those who live in glass houses, like you and me and everyone else, shouldn't throw stones. After all, we might be better at it than those who do it for a living, and that would be depressing to think about on the way to work tomorrow.

While speculation can often be unfair, it's only fair to speculate upon what News International's reactions might have been if it had been the 'Daily Mirror' or the 'Daily Mail' at the centre of a phone-hacking scandal. Brooks would very probably have been calling for the resignation of their senior management. When presented now with a perfect opportunity to practice what she might, or would, have preached, she seems to be going nowhere. Her failure to resign, and her superiors' unwillingness to sack her, is, to my mind, the most direct challenge to human decency that the Murdoch family and their disciples have laid down to the rest of us since this episode began. They appear to be unwilling to take responsibility for what goes in the businesses they manage and control. They do not seem to believe that ordinary norms of human behaviour apply to them. Well, they might discover that the rules do apply to them, and in the near future too. It would be regrettable if freedom of the press were to be curtailed because these clowns actually believed the guff they spouted about needing to cut back on regulations. They cut back on editorial regulations, and created moral monsters. As for proof of Rebekah Brooks's hyprocrisy, that just might appear on its own. It usually does, and almost always when least expected.

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Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Random Thoughts On The Passing Scene

It was disappointing to hear the Labour Party criticise last week's strike by public sector workers. I hope to live long enough to hear Labour actually support a strike. Any strike.

The delay in holding a public enquiry into the allegations of phone-hacking conducted by persons connected to the 'News Of The World' newspaper is a classic British Establishment fudge. The only cliche that was absent was 'We don't discuss operational matters'. That saying, 'We don't discuss operational matters', has enabled the British state to get away with murder; indeed, it is its licence to kill. Events and decisions are never subjected to audit and scrutiny as they unfold. Junior people get hung out to dry at judicial enquiries often held years later, but that doesn't matter just as long as the immediate threat to our oligarchy is removed; by any means necessary. The same thing will happen here. The police enquiry can go on an on and on until Some New Big Issue begins to dominate events, and everything will go back to the way it was.

Mind you, even I was taken aback by hearing that they might have hacked murder victims' phones. What type of person does such a thing? And what type of environment must they work in?

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Sunday, July 03, 2011

HRH The Prince Of Wales...

It also seems that the Freedom of Information Act has been altered specifically to ensure the confidentiality of these briefings, the constitutional propriety of which, in my opinion, may be questionable. As has always been the case in British history, it might be the case that it's one rule for some, and another for Those Who Matter. In this country, you need do nothing but merely be in order to matter, an admirably Christian position but not one that's universally applied. Today's news is not really the sort of disclosure that makes you proud to be British, God wot.

I can't understand why that man just can't stick to talking to his plants and leave the rest of us in peace without hectoring us, and the people who are entrusted with our government, with his views, while his fondness for killing wild animals for sport and lecturing the rest of us on the need to eat less meat seems precisely the same philosophy of life once expounded to Bugs Bunny by Elmer Fudd. Instead of pandering to his nonsense on the sole basis that he will one day, and in my view illegitimately, if only because their use by every monarch since Henry VIII has been illegitimate, the initials 'FD', those two little initials that seem to be the rock upon which every British government since Henry's day has been built and such an important one that they still appear on every coin minted, it might be good for our government's health for him to be ignored for a while instead.