Vice: So you’re literally trying to take us back the Dark Ages?
Acting Witan of Mercia: It’s crystal clear that the Norman invasion in 1066 smashed the old system. This wouldn’t matter a jot if the world was OK as it is, but it isn’t. The causes of the problems of today go back to 1066. Before the 1066 holocaust, England had more to do with northern Europe and Scandinavia than the continent. If you look at those countries now, it’s a closer model to where we might have been had the Norman conquest never happened.
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January 18, 2013
[politics] Could Ed Miliband be Labour’s Margaret Thatcher? … some interesting similarities highlighted by Andy Beckett… ‘Miliband has a history of being underestimated – just as she was when opposition leader, and during her early years as prime minister. Like her, he was unexpectedly elected party leader. Like her, his public manner was then quickly judged unpalatable, his voice too nasal as hers was too shrill. Like her, he can seem too much of a party stereotype for broad appeal: the bourgeois north London leftie to her prim shire Tory. Like she did, he faces a smooth premier – “Sunny Jim” Callaghan for her, David Cameron for him – considered by journalists and voters to be more “prime ministerial”, but also made vulnerable by internal splits and the lack of a Commons majority. As she did, Miliband has led his party to a substantial but not always solid poll lead. Two and a quarter years into his tenure, it is identical to her party’s at the same stage: hovering around 10%.’
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August 24, 2012
[politics] Britannia Unchained: the rise of the new Tory right … The Guardian profiles a group of right-wing Tories and wonders if history ever repeats itself … ‘In radical right circles, it is strikingly common to hear comparisons between Cameron’s government and that of his Tory predecessor Edward Heath: narrowly elected in 1970, briefly tough before a chaos of U-turns, replaced in 1974 by an often equally beleaguered Labour administration – before the right’s big moment finally arrived in 1979, with Thatcher’s election. If history repeats, which it rarely does exactly, we should expect the Unchaining of Britannia to commence in 2019.’
[politics] So, bumbling Boris Johnson is lovable and funny? Well, have I got news for you … What is Boris Johnson really like? … ‘[Max] Hastings, who has known him for nearly 30 years, still has affection for his former protege but has also sounded warnings about his unsuitability to become PM, not least because of his “startling flashes of instability”. To those who have worked closely with Johnson, his outbursts of temper are notorious; even his sister, Rachel, describes his approach to those who dare to criticise him as “Sicilian”. Female members of the London Assembly have lodged a formal complaint about his offensive conduct.’
[politics] Taxi for Mr Buckles: MPs savage G4S boss over Olympics chaos … Simon Hoggart describes the appearance of Nick Buckles before a group MP’s yesterday … ‘Disaster followed disaster. It turns out that too few G4S staff turned up at a cycling event in Surrey . When would Mr Buckles know how few people would show? At 9 o’clock, he said. That’s 9pm after the understaffed event. Mr Horseman-Sewell chipped in. There was a difference between people not showing up having been accepted, he said, and a shortfall. We were in the realm of the higher metaphysics…’
[funny] Leaving child in pub ‘right for Britain’ says Cameron … ‘DAVID Cameron has insisted that leaving his nine year-old daughter in a pub is the sort of tough decision that will rescue Britain from recession. The prime minister left Nancy in a pub near Chequers after the move was agreed during a conference call with chancellor George Osborne and Nick Clegg…’
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June 4, 2012
[politics] Oh Happy Days: A Personal Recollection Of Working For Jeremy Hunt … ‘I distinctly recall one presentation after a period of company expansion. All of us, old stagers and new recruits, were gathered together in front of a Powerpoint screen. On it were projected smiling photographs of various members of staff, the heads of sales, IT and so on. The company had recently outsourced much of the data entry work to a centre in India. Jeremy Hunt, smiling away in that peculiarly insincere, head-bobbing way that you’ve all seen on the news, was leading. We gasped in horror as our “new colleagues in India” were introduced: there glowed a slide that featured row after row of the same cartoon clip art Generic Brown Person, sat behind a computer.’
[comics] V for Vendetta masks: Who’s behind them? … ‘Anybody watching coverage of the demonstrations may have been struck by a repeated motif – a strangely stylised mask of Guy Fawkes with a moustache and pointy beard. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange arrived at the Occupy London Stock Exchange protest to make a speech wearing one of these masks. He took it off, reportedly at the insistence of the police.’
At one point, he says, a senior editor at the Sun made a point of sending him a message via another Labour MP: “Tell that fat bastard Watson we know about his little planning matter.” This, he says, was a reference to his application to put a conservatory on his family home in the Midlands: a typical “non-newsy, low-level thing” that played its part in making him “start to think like a conspiracy theorist”.
Weiner needed a more private channel of communication for flirtations up to and including pictures of his package. Since the women followed him already, he could send them direct messages. But to receive their replies, he had to follow them in return. Only then could he engage in flirting or sexual repartee.
Weiner seemed not to realize the extent to which Twitter’s rules still made him vulnerable. The women were publicly listed among those accounts he followed. Since he only followed around 200 people, these new followers seemed out of place among the politicians, journalists, and celebrities on his list. It was all too easy for a political foe to notice that Weiner was adding young women (and in at least one case, a porn star) to his followers soon after a public exchange.’
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March 15, 2011
[funny] Unreliably Witnessed: ‘A banker, a Daily Mail reader and a benefit claimant are sitting at a table sharing 12 biscuits…’
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February 4, 2011
[movies] Why The King’s Speech Is A Gross Falsification … Christopher Hitchens On Winston Churchill, Edward VII, and The King’s Speech … ‘[Edward VII] remained what is only lightly hinted in the film: a firm admirer of the Third Reich who took his honeymoon there with Wallis Simpson, the woman for whom he forfeited the throne, and was photographed both receiving and giving the Hitler salute. Of his few friends and cronies, the majority were Blackshirt activists such as the odious “Fruity” Metcalfe. (Royal biographer Philip Ziegler tried his best to clean up this squalid story a few years ago but eventually gave up.) During his sojourns on the European mainland after his abdication, Edward, then the Duke of Windsor, never ceased to maintain highly irresponsible contacts with Hitler and his puppets and seemed to be advertising his readiness to become a puppet or “regent” if the tide went the other way. This is why Churchill eventually had him removed from Europe and given the sinecure of a colonial governorship in the Bahamas, where he could be well-supervised.’
[politics] Steve Bell’s Political Cartoons of the Year … On David Cameron: ‘By way of a bonus, Cameron does not favour the depiction. He came up to me at a Spectator party at the Tory conference in October, and asked me how long I was going to carrry on with it, before advising me: “You can only push a condom so far”.’
[wikileaks] Wikileaks Exposes Internet’s Dissent Tax, not Nerd Supremacy … ‘Ability to disseminate one’s ideas on the Internet is now a sine qua non of inclusion in the global public sphere. However, the Internet is not a true public sphere; it is a public sphere erected on private property, what I have dubbed a “quasi-public sphere,” where the property owners can sideline and constrain dissent.’
[politics] Bob Crow: ‘I couldn’t care less if we had a million strikes’ … interesting interview with the leader of the RMT Union …‘Since he took charge in 2002 the RMT’s membership has grown from 54,000 to 80,000, and has enjoyed substantial annual pay rises, improved conditions, and even the reopening of a final salary pension scheme. “The Evening Standard had it right, it said I was ‘obsessed’ with improving my members’ living standards. Dead right, I actually get pleasure when I see one of my members get a pay rise. That’s another one we’ve had over them. Yeah, I admit to that.” And they get it, according to Crow, because unlike most modern unions they are willing to strike.’ [via @LDN]
Yet just as we feel all hope is lost and we sink back into the miasma, back to the shadow world of ghosts and gods, a miracle arises; everywhere before the direction of self interest is known, people yearn to see where its compass points and then they hunger for truth with passion and beauty and insight. He loves me. He loves me not. Here then is the truth to set them free. Free from the manipulations and constraints of the mendacious. Free to choose their path, free to remove the ring from their noses, free to look up into the infinite voids and choose wonder over whatever gets them though. And before this feeling to cast blessings on the profits and prophets of truth, on the liberators and martyrs of truth, on the Voltaires, Galileos, and Principias of truth, on the Gutenburgs, Marconis and Internets of truth, on those serial killers of delusion, those brutal, driven and obsessed miners of reality, smashing, smashing, smashing every rotten edifice until all is ruins and the seeds of the new.
[politics] Dictator-lit: Kim Jong-il’s political philosophy … ‘I count at least three lies in the first sentence, and another three in the second, although there could be more. Multiply that by a couple of thousand and you will get a sense of Kim’s pathological language machine, the Omega Point of totalitarian communist propaganda, a nightmare matrix of deceiving nouns, adjectives, prepositions and verbs, from which there is no escape.’
[funny] First they came for the quangos … Diamond Geezer on the UK Government’s Spending Review … ‘Then they came for something fundamental,
And I did not speak out because “we simply can’t afford it”.’
[politics] Dear Ed Miliband – My Cruel Cartoons Will Hurt Me More Than You … ‘He has huge potential for caricature. Like John Prescott and unlike Tony Blair, his face tends to betray what is on his mind. Most politicians put on a guarded expression, but his face is more open and seems to let his feelings show. He has been caught gurning a couple of times, and looked like a rabbit caught in headlights just before the result was announced.’
Digested read: Tony Blair A Journey … ‘You know, I had a tear in my eye when I entered No10 for the first time in 1997, though it wasn’t, as the Daily Mail tried to claim, because I was choked with emotion at how far I had come since I was a young, ordinary boy standing on the terraces of St James’ Park, watching Jackie Milburn play for Newcastle. It was because Gordon had hit me. Ah, Gordon! He meant well, I suppose, in his funny little emotionally inarticulate way.’
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[politics] Adam Boulton loses his rag as Nick Clegg coos at Labour … Marina Hyde’s summary of yesterday events is well worth a read … ‘Loosely speaking, then – in fact, speaking with a looseness likely to be matched only by David Cameron’s bowel movements – that is where we are now. It should go without saying that in the time it takes to press the send key we shall be somewhere else entirely. Indeed, given that the cliche of the hour is that “we are in uncharted territory”, the cartographers should surely name these coordinates the Straits of WTF and be done with it.’
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I remember once I had a woman come in who was really on the edge of a breakdown. She was talking about civil war and chaos, immigrants coming up the lanes of Sunderland with knives between their teeth to murder her. She was really in a terrible state.
“I just said to her ‘What paper do you read, love?’ and, of course, it was the Daily Mail. I just said ‘stop reading it and you’ll find life gets better.’ That’s the only advice I could offer.
[politics] Voter Power … ‘In the UK, the only voters with any real power to choose the government are those who live in marginal constituencies. Less than 20% of constituencies can be considered marginal.The rest of us have little or no power to influence the outcome of the election. Find out the power of your vote in this election.’
[politics] Guido Fawkes Dreaming – The Change Coalition: ‘In what is the iconic picture of the election, Cameron walks out of his Millbank headquarters along the Thames embankment to 4 Cowley Street where Nick Clegg greets him and together they walk purposefully towards the Mall surrounded by photographers and cameramen as crowds cheer…’
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Nixon: I do not mind the homosexuality. I understand it. (14-second beep to hide personal information) But nevertheless, the point that I make is that goddamit, I do not think that you glorify on public television homosexuality… even more than you glorify whores. Now we all know that people go to whores. …we all have weaknesses. But, goddammit, what do you think that does to kids? What do you think that does to 11 and 12 year old boys when they see that? …You know what happened to the Greeks! Homosexuality destroyed them. Sure, Aristotle was a homo. We all know that. So was Socrates.
Ehrlichman: But he never had the influence that television had.