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May 7, 2001
[politics] Long, interesting profile of Tony Blair’s last four years as Prime Minister….. ‘The more disappointing Blair is manifest when he is controlled by the side of his nature which is cramped by calculation and caution. A female member of the Cabinet privately refers to him as ‘Mr Crab’ for scuttling away from difficult decisions. As time has stripped off the rhetorical varnishing, the Government emerges through the hyperbole for what it is: incrementally reforming, social democrat, with some illiberally socially authoritarian edges, which broadly sums up Blair himself. A couple of months ago, he gave an under-reported and remarkably candid speech self-dissecting the Government. He conceded that the ‘first phase of New Labour was essentially one of reassurance’. The overwhelming driver has been to prove they are safe hands, fit to run the country, especially its economy. Allied to that has been the obsession with re-election, ‘the most important thing’, as he put it to me in the garden of Number 10 in the spring of 1997.’
May 5, 2001
[century] 1974 – Nixon Resigns‘If Mr Nixon had been at his best last night, then he was at his worst this morning. Sometimes one wished that his agonized wife would take this wretched slobbering, spluttering man away by the arm and propel him into some windowless vehicle for transport to obscurity. But Pat Nixon, with Julie and Tricia and their grey-faced husbands beside them, allowed the man to proceed. It would have been worse, perhaps, if they had tried to stop him. “I remember my old man. They would have called him a common man… he was a street car motorman at first… my mother” – at this point he sobbed violently, his tears somehow eluding the gravitational pull and remaining shining in his eyes – “a saint. She will have no books written about her.”‘
May 4, 2001
[century] 1965 — The Guardian sums up after the death of Winston Churchill…. ‘It was his fate that in spite of his gifts he had only at exceptional moments the full confidence of his fellow-countrymen. This lack of trust cut across all parties. Labour feared what it called his class bias. Some Conservatives thought that he was not biased enough; they felt that, with his past, he was not a sound party man, and they did not like the warmth for his former associates, the Liberals, which he never wholly extinguished. A sentiment very widespread was that Churchill was to be kept only for great occasions: he was too incalculable – or dangerous – for politicians’ daily food.’
May 3, 2001
[century] The Guardian Century1990 – Thatcher Resigns (another posting about that joyous day): ‘For old time’s sake, she had a jolly good shout at Neil Kinnock. Before finally hanging up her handbag, she gave it one last swing at a few Labour backbenchers who strayed within range. And then Dennis Skinner engaged her in a double-act. Asked whether, in retirement, she would still oppose a European central bank, Mr Skinner fed her a line, shouting: “No, she’s goin’ to be the Guv’nor.” “What a good idea!” she cried, to swelling cheers. “I’m enjoying this,” she said, doing little bows. “Thank you. Thank you.” They have loved her never so much as when losing her.’ [discovered via Tom]
April 29, 2001
[profile] The Independent profiles Ken Livingstone after a year of being Mayor of London. ‘After Labour’s triumphant election in 1997, he predicted a recession and suggested that Gordon Brown should be sacked. When the recession did not arrive he claimed, with a mischievous smile, that this was because the Chancellor had adopted his policies. Mr Brown did not reciprocate with a smile. In the 1980s, Mr Livingstone similarly fought against Neil Kinnock’s policy reforms. At a meeting of Labour’s national executive in 1988, he is said to have declared with a hint of self-pity: “I won’t be silenced by the party machine.” Mr Kinnock responded by saying: “Silenced? You have been on every bloody media outlet for the last 24 hours.”‘
April 18, 2001
[politics] Proof that the Tory Party is indeed The Dogs Bollocks… [thanks to Meg — blogging via proxy!]
April 2, 2001
[politics] The Guardian interviews Michael Helseltine — another politician retiring at the next election…. ‘If you push your hair forward, how far would it go, I ask. My bet is that it would hang off his chin. “I haven’t the first idea.” Go on, try it. “No, I shan’t. I certainly won’t try it.” Go on. “No, not at all. “I didn’t always want long hair. I just had long hair. There was no conscious decision.” Come off it, hair length is a choice! “You can have a passive choice.” Laziness? “Yeeeeaassss. Indifference.” Indifference!’
March 29, 2001
[politics] Dogged as does it — interesting profile of William Hague from a reporter who followed him around for a week…. ‘Hague works his way around the room, shaking hands, signing autographs, having his photograph taken next to candidates for the local council elections. I overhear a woman say, ‘Taller than you think, isn’t he?’ A man with a pound sign in his lapel says: ‘Isn’t that Seb Coe over by the door?’ It is. When I wander over to join Coe he says, ‘I’ve just remembered I was once kicked out of this bar when I was a student.’ (Drunken revelries, apparently. These Tories never pass up a chance to show that their formative years were ‘normal’.)’
March 28, 2001
[politics] As the UK elections approach it’s important to know which party the major cartoon characters are supporting. (By the way, Porky the Pig was slaughtered and burned earlier this week… so I suspect he’s not supporting Nick Brown any longer.) [thanks to Marcia]
March 27, 2001
[politics] tothepolls.com launches…. a ‘Balanced News Filter for the UK General Election’.
March 22, 2001
[politics] The Guardian interviews Tony Benn and Sir Edward Heath about their 50 years of service in the British Parliment…. ‘Heath remains silent. As an Oxford student of modest origins and progressive instincts, he took himself off to Germany to inspect Hitler at close quarters. Making his way to Nuremberg in 1937, his memoirs report, he witnessed the Führer walking to the podium, “his shoulder brushing mine as he went past”. “This experience subsequently dominated my political life,” Heath would one day write, confirming him as an anti-appeaser, later (after he had returned to Germany in battle) as a passionate European, convinced that only a Europe “united, free and democratic” would be safe from the demons of ultranationalism.’
March 16, 2001
[politics] BBC News reports that the infamous ‘Labour Isn’t Working’ poster was a clever fake. ‘After the election Lord Thorneycroft, Tory party treasurer at the time, claimed that the poster had “won the election for the Conservatives”. When, in the 1980s, unemployment began to soar, the poster stayed in the public spotlight – this time as a prime example of both political hypocrisy and, just as importantly, the ability of advertising to sell almost anything.’
March 8, 2001
[budget] Steve Bell on Gordon Brown’s Budget…. ‘The Poor Box’. Simon Hoggart’s sketch of the Commons yesterday: ‘The Tories were thunderstruck by the chancellor’s boast, as if their entire air force had, so to speak, been destroyed on the ground. Michael Portillo looked utterly miserable. Oliver Letwin and Francis Maude seemed positively distraught. Ann Widdecombe’s eyes bulged alarmingly, as if her corsets had come to life and were squeezing the breath out of her. Michael Ancram, the normally ebullient party chairman, gave the impression of a man who has just detected a ferret climbing his trousers, north towards his Y-fronts.’
March 5, 2001
[politics] Guardian Unlimited wonders… Why is the Labour Party so Dull? ‘After almost four years in power, with the largest majority in Labour’s history, and the Conservatives empty of rival ideas, all the prime minister had come up with was another cautious summary of the Third Way. Taylor is rather ruder about it: “The ridiculous, fatuous claim that a mild form of Christian democracy represents a new politics . . .” His smooth, media-ready voice rises with the disappointment. Without sounding terribly regretful, he adds: “I’ve fucked my peerage.”‘
February 22, 2001
[politics] The Independent interviews Tony Benn who will stand down soon after 50 years in the House of Commons…‘”Thatcher was a teacher. I didn’t like what she taught. But it wasn’t her legislation that was important, but the fact that she bumped a lot of awful ideas into our minds. “For fun, I once drafted a bill called the Mrs Thatcher Global Repeal Bill. It was a one-clause bill in which everything she’d ever passed was repealed. And you realise that if it was carried it would have practically no impact on the Thatcher legacy, because it was what she talked about that had a profound and permanent influence on the minds of a lot of people. Some are now rejecting it, but the ideas are still the conventional wisdom of the British establishment, aren’t they?”‘
February 17, 2001
[politics] Interesting profile of Sebastian Coe — William Hague’s close personal friend. ‘”It is fair to question the judgement of any leader whose chosen confidant is Sebastian Coe,” the Tory grandee Max Hastings has said somewhat archly. It is a verdict apparently shared by Coe’s peers. The year before he was booted out of the House of Commons in 1997 he was voted by fellow parliamentarians to be among the “least impressive MPs” of those first elected in 1992. “He is an amiable non-person politically, harmless, content-free, a political vacuum,” said one. “And over-promoted,” said another. “It doesn’t reflect well on William.”‘ [Related Links: GuardianRunning battle between Christie and Coe, BBC NewsLinford Christie: Polishing his pride]
January 25, 2001
[comics] Steve Bell on Peter Mandelson ‘The Millennium Brown Nose Experience’ and today’s cartoon ‘Dropping the Pilot’
January 24, 2001
[politics] David Icke on the inauguration of George Bush ‘The Bush inauguration marks the start of the massive push by the Illuminati to further their agenda for a global fascist state. You will see this clearly unfolding in the next 24 months and, as usual, watch what they do, not what they say. The Bush administration will be a cold, calculating, vicious, period of human history. I know people who have met the Shrub during his period as Governor of Texas and cold, calculating, and vicious, as well as staggeringly unintelligent, are words they chose to describe him. But those who will be dictating the actions of his presidency make him look like a puppy dog. Or maybe lapdog would be more appropriate.’ [Related Links: Disinfomation Dossier on Icke]
January 22, 2001
[net] Row over crackdown on adoption websites. Just how stupid is the British Government? ‘The government is to clamp down on adoption over the internet by warning British-based service providers that they face criminal prosecution for relaying material which infringes British adoption law, it emerged yesterday. The extraordinary move by the Department of Health, which came as the controversy concerning the case of the couple who adopted twins on the net continued to gather pace, was immediately attacked as unworkable.’
January 20, 2001
[politics] Bill Clinton’s Final Days… The Onion reports — Bush: ‘Our Long National Nightmare Of Peace And Prosperity Is Finally Over’ ‘Bush swore to do “everything in [his] power” to undo the damage wrought by Clinton’s two terms in office, including selling off the national parks to developers, going into massive debt to develop expensive and impractical weapons technologies, and passing sweeping budget cuts that drive the mentally ill out of hospitals and onto the street. During the 40-minute speech, Bush also promised to bring an end to the severe war drought that plagued the nation under Clinton, assuring citizens that the U.S. will engage in at least one Gulf War-level armed conflict in the next four years.’
January 19, 2001
[politics] Ten American perspectives on Clinton — various Americans discuss ‘history’s verdict’ on Clinton. ‘Clinton is a total mystery in some ways. He’s such a rogue. Yet he’s so intelligent. He’s on top of issues, I think, better than any president I can remember since Lyndon Johnson. My goodness, we’re going to miss him. It’s quite wrong to see him as entertainment, quite wrong. Tell me somebody in the House of Commons who’s as good, as articulate, who’s got a grasp of so many issues in such detail…’Alastair Cooke.
January 18, 2001
[comment] Tea with Dirty Desmond. Francis Wheen does a fantastic hatchet job on Richard Desmond ‘…if the PM studied the porn website fantasy121.com, which is owned by Richard Desmond, he might have truly believed that the Express boss was indeed a New Labour kinda guy. Desmond is, for instance, determined to end the misery of social exclusion. Hence the appearance on his website of nude photos of Grace, a 79-year-old woman who would like to meet men under the age of 20 for sex.’
January 10, 2001
[politics] Are you a Ku Klux Gran? ‘Not old ladies dressed up in white sheets, rather very, very traditional and conservative housewives aged over 55. There are just under 2m of them in the UK and they believe that a woman’s place is in the home, disagree with the euro, buy British wherever possible and dislike foreign food.’
January 5, 2001
[politics] Tory Thinktank comes up with a Back To The Future scenario for the current Labour government… ‘By 2003, with another election looming, Mr Tyrell ponders deepening economic problems with a government “beleaguered and isolated”. The following year sees strikes, consumer boycotts, demonstrations and “mild acts of mass civil disobedience”. The transport networks are frequently targeted – perhaps indicating how last year’s fuel protests were a taste of things to come. Following Mr Blair’s resignation, Mr Tyrell predicts a political landscape which “resembles Italy in the 1970s and people talk of Britain being ungovernable”.’
January 1, 2001
[politics] Thatcher — started as she meant to go on‘Margaret Thatcher’s first recorded intervention in Edward Heath’s cabinet was to propose the imposition of borrowing charges on library books, and the abolition of free school milk for children over seven, which earned her the nickname Milk Snatcher. The new education secretary told the cabinet in September that “she had been able to offer the chief secretary, Treasury, rather larger savings than he had sought on school meals, school milk, further education and library charges”‘
December 30, 2000
[politics] Politics is boring. LMG wants more Christmas photos of Ann Widdecombe and her cats — Pugwash and Carruthers…. and little poems as well: ‘Goodness gracious, what is that? It’s Mr. Pugwash, my black cat. Goodness gracious, are there others? Yes indeed, my cat Carruthers.’
December 23, 2000
[interesting metaphor] BBC News profiles the major players in British politics as pantomime characters‘William Hague, unfortunately, has been likened to Aladdin. He was down on his luck, unloved and alone when he suddenly discovered his magic lamp. Trouble was when he rubbed it, rather than a genie leaping out to fulfil his every political desire, he got Michael Portillo. The new shadow chancellor immediately went around tearing up all Aladdin’s policies and refusing to get back into his lamp. He now hovers over Mr Hague’s shoulder insisting there is no way he wants his job.’
December 22, 2000
[politics] Senior Tory regrets Spice joke. I’m surprised this piece of Tory ignorance did not get wider coverage — but who stares at a snow flake in a blizzard? The joke in full from the Guardian: ‘Liam wandered around the room, perhaps having had one or two and being full of Christmas cheer. “Have you heard my new joke?” he puppyishly asked a group of people. “What do you call three dogs and a blackbird?” No one knew. “The Spice Girls,” said Liam. Embarrassed shuffling ensued, but either misinterpreting this as collective deafness or perhaps out of exuberant delight at his own wit, Liam told it again.’
December 20, 2000
[politics] Francis Wheen in the GuardianJohn Redwood on William Hague: ‘After talking to Hague during the second leadership ballot in 1997, Redwood confided that he had “had more interesting conversations with a bathroom sponge”. When Hague was subsequently elected, Redwood said: “They have actually chosen the worst of all the six candidates.” On another occasion, he described Hague as looking like “a very old baby”. If this is Redwood’s idea of being nice, what is he like when he turns nasty?’
December 16, 2000
[comics] Warren Ellis on the American Elections‘Let me first congratulate my American readers for finally having a President selected for them. My contacts in the American political power structure inform me that the American national anthem will be changed in January to “Duelling Banjos” from the film DELIVERANCE.’ [Related Links: Duelling Banjos MIDI, Deliverance]
December 15, 2000
[politics] ‘NOBODY expects the Liberal Elite! Our chief weapon is surprise…surprise and fear…fear and surprise…. Our two weapons are fear and surprise…and ruthless efficiency…. Our *three* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency…and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope…. Our *four*…no… *Amongst* our weapons…. Amongst our weaponry…are such elements as fear, surprise…. I’ll come in again.’ [Related Links: The Spanish Inquisition – Monty Python]
December 13, 2000
[politics] Kiss of death — astrologer predicts that Gore will win. ‘”Mercury is going into Sagittarius,” she explains. “This is a move that puts the emphasis on truth, and things being out in the open. My assumption from this is that the recount will be allowed to continue. It would be the way to find out the truth and not having anything hidden.”‘ [via Guardian Weblog]
December 11, 2000
[politics] More on the Widdy Web from Simon Hoggart in the Guardian. ‘I found myself rather moved. Miss Widdecombe pretending to be horrified by something Jack Straw has said is much sillier than her thoughts about her cats, which at least are sincere and passionately felt.’ [via Pete@Bugpowder]
December 6, 2000
[ann widdecombe] Hey Kids! Put down that Playstation 2! Come and check out The Widdy Web Junior!! ‘I am called a Member of Parliament. We call this MP for short. A Member of Parliament looks after a lot of people in an area which is called a constituency. My constituency stretches from Maidstone almost to Tunbridge Wells.’
November 30, 2000
[politics] Why I am Eating all the Pies by Chancellor Gordon Brown, MP. ‘I have eaten all the pies. Or rather, I have eaten as many pies as one man can safely eat. The other pies I am saving for later on, in my freezer. To the uneducated man, this may seem greedy. But I can assure you it is not. It is, in fact, essential to the well-being of Britain that I eat as many pies as possible.’ [via Interconnected]
[hst] Hunter S. Thompson on the US Elections‘There are rumors in Washington that Gore’s most trusted advisors have sealed him off so completely that he still firmly believes he Won. … Which is True, on some scorecards, but so what? Those cards don’t count. … George W. Bush is our President now, and you better start getting used to it. He didn’t actually steal the White House from Al Gore, he just brutally wrestled it away from him in the darkness of one swampy Florida night. He got mugged, and the local Cops don’t give a damn.’
November 28, 2000
[books] Books Unlimited has the first chapter of Naomi Klein’s No Logo available… ‘And so the wave of mergers in the corporate world over the last few years is a deceptive phenomenon: it only looks as if the giants, by joining forces, are getting bigger and bigger. The true key to understanding these shifts is to realize that in several crucial ways – not their profits, of course – these merged companies are actually shrinking. Their apparent bigness is simply the most effective route toward their real goal: divestment of the world of things.’
November 23, 2000
[history?] UK Blogs discuss the ten year aniversary of Thatcher’s resignation… NotSoSoft, Blue Ruin and Wherever You Are. ‘I was really too young to have experienced exactly what the Thatcher years were like for myself, though, so to me she seems like some mythical beast. With her teeth drawn, I hope.’ — Blue Ruin. [Some other links: yet another great Steve Bell cartoon on Thatcher and Blair — The End of the Affair, and a once famous Thatcher impressionist — Steve Nallon’s website.]
November 22, 2000
[thatch] Guardian Unlimited asks: Where were you when Thatcher resigned? Ken Loach: ‘I was in a car going back to a flat we’ve got in Chiswick. I remember it must have been how people felt at the end of the war – street parties and people singing songs to a piano in the street. I knew the malign influence would carry on, but there was a wonderful feeling of caps in the air.’ [Tedious Autobio: Where was I? 1990. I was… twenty, living in Portsmouth, and a student. It was about 9.30ish in the morning and I was having a long relaxing shower. One of my flatmates banged on the shower door and shouted: “Hey Dazza! Thatcher’s resigned!” I started to shuffle a happy dance (it was a small shower) and sing Morning Has Broken at the top of my voice.]
November 16, 2000
[turkey shoot] Matthew Parris provides brilliant insight into the House of Lords as they discussed reducing the age of consent for gay sex to 16… It’s like something out of Royston Vasey… and it costs us 31 million pounds a year to pay for this group of inbreds and idiots: ‘The Earl of Longford insisted that homosexuals “should not be condemned”. The Earl (94) illustrated what he meant by not condemning: “homosexualism” was a sad disorder, he said, like schizophrenia and chronic alcoholism. Seduce a girl of 16, he added, and that was a dreadful shame. But seduce a young man and he would “become a rent boy”. Lord Selsdon said that he had “eaten the private parts of a green monkey”.’ [Related Links: BBC News Story, Transcript of the Debate, link via the ever dependable Blue Ruin]
November 14, 2000
[cartoon] Steve Bell on the US Presidential Elections‘Electile Dysfunction’
November 12, 2000
[politics] The Thrill of Agony and the Victory of Defeat[?] The Observer covers what happened next as Gore prepared to concede the election to George Bush…. ”Circumstances,’ he said, once through to the Governor of Texas, ‘have changed. I need to withdraw my concession until the situation is clear’. ‘Let me make sure I understand, Mr Vice-President,’ said Bush. ‘You’re calling me back to retract your concession’. ‘There’s no need to get snippy about it,’ said Gore. Bush replied that his brother Jeb was the Governor in charge of the Florida ballot. Gore’s voice retorted: ‘It may surprise you but your younger brother is not the ultimate authority on this.’ ‘Mr Vice-President,’ said Bush’s voice, ‘You need to do what you have to do.”
November 9, 2000
[politics] BBC News covers the presidential election between Nixon and Kennedy in 1960: ‘The campaign became an increasingly dirty one, with mud-slinging and accusations of dirty tricks on both sides. The Kennedy camp uncovered a story that Nixon had regularly attended parties with prostitutes at the Florida home of his friend Bebe Rebozo. They were about to release the story to the media when they found out that Kennedy had also been a party guest.’
November 8, 2000
[politics] Media Nugget of the Day covers the US Presidential Elections. ‘Any way you cut it, 2000 will go down in history as a classic.’ and the Onion — Bush or Gore: ‘A New Era Dawns’ ‘”My fellow Americans,” a triumphant Bush or Gore told throngs of jubilant, flag-waving supporters at his campaign headquarters, “tonight, we as a nation stand on the brink of many exciting new challenges. And I stand here before you to say that I am ready to meet those challenges.”‘
November 7, 2000
[politics] Guardian Unlimited covers the brains behind Bush. Scary. ‘Olasky also believes that liberal journalists have “holes in their souls” and practice “the religion of Zeus”, which came as something of a surprise to the east-coast press. “What could he mean?” they wondered. Frank Rich, a veteran columnist at the New York Times, and one of those accused of having a hole in his soul, said: “He still hasn’t told me whether the religion of Zeus goes in for Bar Mitzvahs.”‘
November 5, 2000
[politics] The Sunday Times discovers evidence of cocaine being snorted within the Houses of Parliament. ‘At least the myth has been destroyed that if people start out on a soft drug, they end up on heroin. That they end up on the Tory front bench is not an enviable fate, but it is not quite as bad as lying in a gutter with a needle sticking out of you.’
November 2, 2000
[fuel] Guardian Unlimited compares and contrasts the real 1930s Jarrow Marchers with the farmers and hauliers behind the fuel tax protesters. ‘The contrast with the self-employed hauliers and farmers, running the campaign for a 26p cut in fuel duty, could scarcely be starker. Although some of the farmer activists have been hit by the slump in agricultural prices, evidence of other fuel protest organisers’ prosperity can be seen in BMWs, Volvos and Mercedes parked outside their meetings. Protest leaders include Nigel Kime, spokesman for British Hauliers Unite and owner of a £2m haulage firm; Derek Mead, protest coordinator in Somerset, who owns a 1,600-acre dairy farm; and Derek Lynch, who owns a Kent haulage business.’
October 29, 2000
[steve bell] Missed this on Friday — Mad Cows take a bite out of Gummer and Major
October 27, 2000
[comics] Quimby 2000 Vs. Lex 2000
October 26, 2000
[politics] Picking on ugly people is not funny… unless they are British MP’s. [Related Links: The Ann Widdecombe Shrine]

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